Washington, D.C., October 16, 2023 – U.S. Senator Katie Britt (R-Ala.) is recognizing October as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. During this month, women are encouraged to talk to their health care providers and get screened, as well as learn more about the benefits of regular screening and potential risk factors for the disease.
As a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations’ Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, Senator Britt is working to provide women across Alabama and America with greater access to diagnostic testing.
Senator Britt last month reintroduced the Access to Breast Cancer Diagnosis (ABCD) Act, legislation which would eliminate copays and other out-of-pocket expenses for breast cancer diagnostic tests, making them more accessible and affordable. The ABCD Act is bipartisan, bicameral legislation co-led by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.).
In May of this year, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) released a recommendation statement that all women should begin screening for breast cancer every other year beginning at age 40. Previously, the USPSTF recommended starting tests a decade later, but given the rise in invasive breast cancer among younger women, the agency updated their recommendation to increase the likelihood of early detection.
The Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama states that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer during their lifetime, including an estimated 4,500 women in Alabama in 2023.
In 2023, the American Cancer Society estimates that over 297,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be detected in women across the United States. Additionally, a recent study conducted by the journal Radiology found that 40.6% of women would potentially skip additional imaging if they had to pay a deductible for a diagnostic test.
“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.”
Under current law, insurance companies are required to provide no-copay coverage for breast cancer screenings but not diagnostic testing. If the initial screening shows that a patient may have breast cancer, further testing, including mammograms, MRIs, and ultrasounds, may be needed to make a diagnosis. An estimated 10% of screening mammograms require follow-up diagnostic testing. Regular diagnostic testing may also be recommended for patients who have had a prior breast cancer diagnosis or are genetically predisposed to breast cancer.
This month, the American Society of Breast Surgeons sent a letter expressing their support for the ABCD Act and thanking the Senators for their advocacy and support for breast cancer patients.
The full bill text of the ABCD Act is available here.