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.” 

Shorter Radiotherapy Regimen May Be Better For Certain Patients With Breast Cancer

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Houston Chronicle (8/7, Ackerman) reports that research published in JAMA Oncology suggests that “women with early stage breast cancer are better off with a shorter, more powerful course of radiation therapy.” Investigators “found that patients who received higher doses of whole breast radiation over four weeks experienced fewer side effects and a better quality of life compared to those who received lower doses over six weeks.”

HealthDay (8/7, Preidt) reports that physicians “should use this higher-dose approach – called hypofractionated whole breast irradiation – as a starting point when discussing treatment options with breast cancer patients...said” the investigators.

MedPage Today (8/7, Bankhead) reports that “the authors of an accompanying editorial said ‘the mounting evidence supporting hypofractionation can no longer be ignored.’” Medscape (8/7, Castellino) also covers the story. 

RT-BOOP Risk May Be Low For Young Breast Cancer Patients

Monday, August 3, 2015
Radiation Therapy News (8/1, Newman) reported that while “radiation-induced bronchiolitis obliterans organizing pneumonia (BOOP) is a possible side effect of radiation therapy in women with breast cancer,” researchers “found that the risk is quite low but is more prevalent in older women.” The findings were published in Radiation Oncology.