July 9, 2015
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released new guidelines for breast cancer screenings in April 2015. They’re recommendations suggest women don’t need to start getting mammograms until age 50. They further recommend women ages 50-74 receive mammograms once every two years. Currently, it’s recommended that women receive a mammogram every year after they turn 40. If Congress approves these guidelines, thousands of breast cancer cases could go undetected until late, less-treatable stages. When detected early, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer is 99%- early detection saves lives.
The Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to cover procedures given a grade “B” or higher by the USPSTF. They gave mammograms a “C” grade and a “B” grade to biennial screenings for women 50-74. These new guidelines will force women to pay out of pocket for yearly mammograms which is particularly threatening to underserved and rural areas.
The Task Force also found the evidence regarding 3D mammography to be insufficient giving this form of screening an “I” grade. They dismissed hundreds of peer-reviewed publications that clearly and consistently show 3D mammography significantly increases the detection of invasive cancer while reducing false positive recall rates – both of which are key concerns about traditional mammograms raised by the Task Force. Insurance companies could have less incentive to cover the cost of a 3D mammogram, despite the fact that Medicare already pays for these important tests. You can review the proposed recommendations in more detail here.
This year, 30% of newly diagnosed cancer in women will be breast cancers. Unless Congress acts, women ages 40 – 49 could lose health insurance coverage without cost sharing for mammograms and be forced to cover costs themselves. To urge Congress to dismiss these draft recommendations, you can sign this petition.
We invite you to share this link with your colleagues and on social media channels including #preventcancer and #stoptheguidelines in your posts. Here are some sample posts.
How many cancers are we willing to miss? Sign a petition to protect women’s access to quality care and #mammograms http://chn.ge/1HIKrDJ
Of the approximately 40,000 women who die from breast cancer each year, up to 10,000 had cancer that potentially could have been diagnosed with screening mammography prior to the age of 50. Sign a petition to Congress urging it to block new proposed recommendations that could limit access to mammograms http://chn.ge/1HIKrDJ