Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death for women, and although doctors have pushed to start screenings at age 40, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree that patients don’t always get medical coverage. insurance and the information they need to make the most informed decisions about their potential risks.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said she wouldn’t be here today if her ovarian cancer wasn’t caught as soon as it was. That’s why the president of House Appropriations is leading the bipartisan push in Congress to equip women with more comprehensive mammogram data.
“Women’s lives are at stake,” DeLauro told Fox News. “Breast cancer detected at an early stage has a survival rate of 99%, which shows how important early detection is.”
Nearly one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, researchers say. And medical professionals have agreed that early detection is key to tackling the disease which has killed an estimated 43,780 people this year, according to the American Cancer Society.
“At the end of the day, unless we can prevent breast cancer, which is the second biggest killer, then you know that we will always, I think, face deaths from breast cancer,” said the Dr. Dorraya El-Ashry, chief scientific officer of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, told Fox News.
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Breast cancer deaths have been steadily declining since the late 1980s, largely due to awareness campaigns, early detection of breast cancer, and better treatment.
Still, the American Cancer Society has warned that the decline in the breast cancer death rate has slowed in recent years. Between 2015 and 2019, the death rate among women diagnosed with breast cancer was nearly 20%.
“It’s not a partisan issue, it’s about saving lives,” said DeLauro, who passed the breast density mammography law in 2019 that requires providers to tell patients if they have breasts. dense and need further screening.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently responded to DeLauro’s request, introducing a new rule to “establish four categories for reporting breast tissue density in the mammogram report that is provided to the patient’s referring health care provider. patient”.
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Often, a woman’s annual screening mammogram shows two x-rays of each breast and is covered by insurance. However, if a patient notices abnormal changes and needs additional ultrasounds, these procedures may not be included in their insurance plans.
“I had personally discovered a lump, and when I called for a mammogram, I couldn’t believe how difficult it was,” Rep. Beth Van Duyne, R-Texas, told Fox News. “When I finally had the mammogram, many, many weeks later, after jumping through all the hoops, your normal insurance didn’t cover the cost, so it cost me, you know, just over $800 $.”
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Van Duyne’s experience led her to lend her support to the bipartisan Metastatic Breast Cancer Care Access Act, which would speed up Social Security and Medicare payments for people with metastatic breast cancer. metastatic breast cancer. “It would normally have been 100% covered. So I was really shocked by that because if anything…when you find a lump, you want to encourage women to get tested as soon as possible.”
Long before the 117th Congress, Susan G. Komen marched and the iconic mark of the pink ribbon, women in Congress said they felt the stigma as they sought to raise awareness and bring the conversation to the table.
“People wouldn’t say the words ‘breast’ and ‘breast cancer’. It was a death sentence for too many women 30 years ago. We’ve worked together since then to make everything better,” the rep said. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., at Fox News.
Dingell said while progress has been made, there is still work to be done. “My goal is that if a breast cancer screening indicates that a woman may have breast cancer, that the diagnostic test, such as an ultrasound or MRI, insurance is needed to cover it in order to determine if the cancer is present.”
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Members on both sides of the aisle agreed that giving women the tools they need to prevent cancer starts with having access to them.
“I’m just trying to make it easier for women to access that kind of health care support, life-saving health care,” Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, RN.Y., told Fox News about the incident. access to metastatic breast cancer. care law. “Congress and the government in general should be focused on you and trying to help you make sure that…they don’t miss a showing because of time or money.”
So far in 2022, Congress has introduced three cancer-related bills and earmarked $150 million in funding for breast cancer.
El-Ashry said she hopes some of this funding will go to research and lead to scientific breakthroughs that will help reduce cases of breast cancer.
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“Research is the reason we have all the breakthroughs we’ve had so far,” El-Ashry said. “We clearly need breakthroughs…to help us move ever closer to this ultimate goal of breast cancer prevention.”
The National Cancer Society has reported that nearly four million women have survived breast cancer. Lawmakers from all political cleavages hope their action can push that number even higher.