U.S. Senator Katie Britt, R-Ala., is taking a stand this October by recognizing it as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, emphasizing the importance of early detection and improved access to diagnostic testing. Senator Britt’s commitment to women’s health has been underscored by her reintroduction of the Access to Breast Cancer Diagnosis (ABCD) Act, a bipartisan effort aimed at eliminating copays and out-of-pocket expenses for breast cancer diagnostic tests.
Senator Britt, a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations’ Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, is dedicated to expanding access to diagnostic testing for women not only in Alabama but across the nation.
“This month is not only important to raise awareness of breast cancer across America, but it is also a time to recommit ourselves to doing the critical work to provide women and their families with the support and evidence-based solutions needed to get diagnosed and then face their diagnosis head-on,” said Senator Britt. “We know that early detection saves lives, and the importance of giving women the widest variety of treatment options and the best chance to defeat this disease cannot be understated. I want to encourage every woman to talk to their health care provider this month – getting screened is the best way to detect breast cancer early. I will continue to support breast cancer research, education, and prevention efforts as we work towards a cure for this disease.”
The ABCD Act, co-led by Senator Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., seeks to make breast cancer diagnostic tests more accessible and affordable for all women. This legislation comes in response to recent recommendations by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF), which now advises women to begin screening for breast cancer every other year starting at age 40, in light of rising invasive breast cancer cases among younger women.
According to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama, 1 in 8 women will face a diagnosis of invasive breast cancer during their lifetime, including an estimated 4,500 women in Alabama this year. Nationwide, the American Cancer Society predicts that over 297,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be detected in 2023.
A recent study in the journal Radiology found that 40.6 percent of women would potentially skip additional imaging if faced with a deductible for a diagnostic test, highlighting the financial barriers many women encounter when seeking essential breast cancer screenings.
Under the current law, insurance companies are mandated to cover breast cancer screenings without copays, but not diagnostic testing. Further diagnostic tests, including mammograms, MRIs, and ultrasounds, are often necessary to confirm a diagnosis. Approximately 10% of screening mammograms require follow-up diagnostic testing. Additionally, regular diagnostic testing may be recommended for patients with a prior breast cancer diagnosis or a genetic predisposition to the disease.
This month, the American Society of Breast Surgeons expressed their support for the ABCD Act and thanked Senators Britt and Shaheen for their unwavering advocacy and dedication to breast cancer patients.