Published on September 29, 2023
The Prevent Cancer Foundation expresses profound sorrow over the passing of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). The longest-serving female senator in U.S. history, Sen. Feinstein will be remembered for numerous achievements over her more than 30 years in the Senate; the Foundation will always remember her as someone who exemplified what it meant to be a cancer advocate, championing legislation, raising awareness and using her position to make positive changes across the cancer landscape.
Most recently, Sen. Feinstein introduced the Protecting Access to Lifesaving Screenings (PALS) Act of 2021, a bill to preserve coverage for routine breast cancer screening for women in their 40s. The PALS Act delays U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations that advised women to begin biennial breast cancer screenings at age 50 in order to protect insurance coverage of annual breast cancer screenings at no cost for women aged 40 and older.
Sen. Feinstein understood that protecting access to breast cancer screening was vital in the fight against breast cancer, even more so after the pandemic—when there were significant declines in screening rates—saying about the PALS Act, “As we get back to regular doctor visits, our bill would ensure the cost of getting screened isn’t a barrier that further delays women from seeking preventive care.”
The senator was also instrumental in the passage of legislation to ensure women receive breast density information on their mammography reports, so they can discuss with their health care provider if they should seek additional screening. The bill was a massive win for early detection efforts, improving breast cancer detection specifically for women who have dense breasts, which has been linked with a higher risk for breast cancer.
Sen. Feinstein’s history of working to prevent and detect breast cancer early dates back to 1997, when she took part in shaping the legislation that led to the creation of the Breast Cancer Research Stamp, the first semipostal stamp. This stamp has gone on to contribute more than $96 million towards breast cancer research efforts in the United States.
In recognition of her dedication to cancer prevention and early detection efforts, the Prevent Cancer Foundation honored Sen. Feinstein as one of the Congressional Leaders in Cancer Prevention alongside other members of Congress at the Foundation’s 30th anniversary event in 2015 on Capitol Hill. She was also honored as a “Prevention Champion” at the Foundation’s 25th anniversary in 2010.
The Prevent Cancer Foundation is immensely grateful for the role Sen. Feinstein played in supporting breast cancer legislation and raising awareness about the disease. She understood that cancer was a bipartisan issue, working across the aisle to put prevention and early detection at the center of the conversation to save lives. We extend our sincere condolences to her family, friends and colleagues.