Poll: Most Women 40 And Older Believe They Should Have Mammograms Annually

Monday, August 31, 2015
NPR (8/29, Hensley) (8/29, Hensley) reported the latest NPR-Truven Health Analytics health poll found nearly two-thirds of women ages 50 and older believe they should have mammograms annually as did 56 percent of those between 40 and 49 years old, which is in keeping with guidelines from the American College of Radiology and other medical organizations involved in breast cancer care, but “is at odds with current recommendations by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force that women with typical risks for breast cancer have screening mammograms every two years starting at age 50 and until they turn 75.” In addition, “48 percent of respondents were aware that the Affordable Care Act requires insurers to cover mammograms without any out-of-pocket costs.” 

Unpleasant Psychosocial Effects Of False-Positive Mammograms May Last For Months

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Aunt Minnie (8/27) reports, “Women who receive false-positive mammograms are five times more likely to experience long-term unpleasant psychosocial consequences than women with negative exams,” according to research published Aug. 26 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. Swedish researchers “found that the use of early recall...can result in negative emotional consequences that may persist for up to 12 months after the initial false-positive mammogram.” The study’s “authors acknowledged that the consequences of emotional distress should be balanced against the lifesaving value of breast screening.”

HealthDay (8/27, Preidt) reports that the study, which included “nearly 400 such cases found that 88 percent of the women said they felt a sense of dejection, such as being uneasy, sad or unable to cope; 83 percent reported anxiety; 67 percent said they had behavioral changes, such as trouble dealing with spare time or work; and 53 percent suffered sleeping problems.”

Aggressive Treatment For DCIS May Not Save Lives, Study Suggests

Thursday, August 20, 2015

ABC World News (8/20, story 5, 0:25, Muir) reported that research suggests “that aggressive treatment for what some doctors say is the earliest stage of” breast cancer “may not be necessary to save lives.”

The AP (8/21) reports that for the study, published online in JAMA Oncology, investigators “analyzed U.S. government data on more than 100,000 women diagnosed from 1988 to 2011 with DCIS — ductal carcinoma in situ.”

TIME (8/21, Park) reports that “overall a diagnosis of DCIS was associated with a higher risk — 3% — of dying of breast cancer in 20 years compared to women who didn’t have the cancer,” with the risk being “highest for younger women (diagnosed before age 35) and for black women.” However, “when the researchers looked more carefully at the women with DCIS, their rates of breast cancer recurrence and their death rates, they found that those getting surgery and radiation or just surgery did indeed lower their risk of getting a recurrent cancer, but did not reduce their risk of dying from breast cancer.”

On its front page, the Washington Post (8/21, Johnson, Cha) reports that these “findings add to concerns that the ability to detect these lesions through mammograms may be leading to unnecessary mastectomies.”

Private Insurers Withholding Reimbursement For DBT

Monday, August 17, 2015
Radiology Today (8/17, Hardy) reports that breast imagers are facing challenges adapting to three new billing codes for DBT, or 3D mammography, initiated in January. Though “the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) found sufficient evidence of the technology’s effectiveness, many private insurance companies continue to find the modality investigational and thus are not reimbursing.” One of the benefits of DBT is that the images can be analyzed while the patient waits, rather than calling them back on future date. One challenge of DBT is that the image files are much larger, leading to data storage issues. 

Bipartisan Legislation Aims To Maintain Copay-Free Mammograms For Women In Their 40s

Thursday, August 13, 2015
Congressional Quarterly (8/13, Subscription Publication) reports that a bipartisan group of female lawmakers “are working to keep a mandate for insurance companies to cover mammography for women in their 40s free of copay charges, a step intended to again overrule the findings of an influential federal task force.” Reps. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) introduced bills in recent weeks “that would stop the U. S. Preventive Services Task Force from issuing a lukewarm review about the potential benefits of routine mammography for women in their 40s.” In April, the USPSTF released a draft report saying the potential benefits of breast-cancer screening are lower for women in their 40s than for those ages 50 to 74. If the mammography recommendation is finalized, “insurance companies might drop coverage of mammograms for women in their 40s without copays.”