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. 

House Bill Would Overrule USPSTF Panel Recommendations On Mammography Screening For Younger Women

Thursday, July 30, 2015
Bloomberg News (7/30, Tracer) reports that Reps. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) “submitted a bill Wednesday to put a two-year moratorium on a proposal” from the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) that could “end guaranteed insurance coverage for mammograms for women ages 40 to 49.” In April, a USPSTF panel “said...that the benefits of those screenings may not outweigh harms such as false positives,” though the final recommendations have not been issued yet. If the bill is approved, Bloomberg News adds, “it wouldn’t be the first time Congress has effectively overruled the experts on breast-cancer screening.” 

Death Rates From Invasive Breast Cancer Declining

Friday, July 24, 2015
MedPage Today (7/23, Jackson) reports that data indicate that “from 1973 to 2010 in the U.S., large reductions in breast cancer-specific death hazards were experienced in women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer.” While “overall age-adjusted breast cancer mortality rates were stable initially, they decreased by almost one-third, from 33.5% in 1988 to 23.5% in 2010, reported Mitchell Gail, MD, PhD, senior investigator, biostatistics branch, division of cancer epidemiology and genetics, National Cancer Institute, Rockville, Md., and colleagues.” The findings were published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology 

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