Why Does This National Breast Cancer Awareness Month Feel Different?

This post was contributed by Debra Monticciolo, MD, FACR, chair of the American College of Radiology Commission on Breast imaging

MONTICCIOLO, DEBRAOctober is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Usually, we as radiologists remind women to start getting annual mammograms at age 40, discuss exam benefits and risks, and show them how annual mammography continues to greatly reduce breast cancer deaths.

But this year is different: we have to inform women and their families that if they (and Congress) don’t act, many women may not be able to afford to get an annual mammogram at all.

This week the ACR and the Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) joined patient groups and minority health care advocates in urging Congress to extend mandatory insurance coverage for women 40 and older who want annual mammograms. Under current law, this mandate would run out Dec. 31, 2017. After that, if insurers choose to base coverage solely on recent USPSTF recommendations, only women 50–74 would be guaranteed coverage – and then only every other year. All others may be on their own.

If you think women need to know about this, consider linking to this press release on your practice website and informing your patients of these developments as you think appropriate. Also, please see this ACR Position Statement on Screening Mammography and Health Care Coverage that may be useful in discussions with hospital administrators, payers and other decision makers.

And finally, we invite you make use of these National Breast Cancer Awareness Month social media resources and other materials to help you explain to women and their families the importance of getting annual mammograms starting at age 40. Patient resources may be found at MammographySavesLives.org, RadiologyInfo.org and the SBI End the Confusion initiative.

Have you ever had discussions with patients regarding their ability to gain access to care (in this case – mammography)?

What are you and your practice doing to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month?      

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below and join the discussion on Engage (login required).

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