Archive for the ‘Medical’ Category

Diagnostic vs. Screening Mammograms: What’s the Difference?

Posted By on October 31st, 2016 at 11:42 am | 0 comments.

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According to the National Cancer Institute, diagnostic mammography takes longer than screening mammography because more x-rays are needed to obtain views of the breast from several angles. The technician may magnify a suspicious area to produce a detailed picture that can help the doctor make an accurate diagnosis.

Women diagnosed with breast cancer are given a diagnostic mammogram for several years following their diagnosis even if they no longer have symptoms.

Cutting Out Chemo? Genetic Test Could Reduce Need for Chemotherapy Among Some Breast Cancer Patients

Posted By on September 1st, 2016 at 9:35 am | 0 comments.

Cutting chemo for PLResearchers say they have found a gene that could cut chemo for some breast cancer patients. According to the European study, published in New England Journal of Medicine, a test called MammaPrint that examines 70 genes can determine whether a patient is high or low risk for recurrence. Researchers studied a group of 1,500 women with breast cancer that had not spread to the lymph nodes.  One group of women considered high risk based on the genetic testing received chemo. The other group, deemed low risk, did not. After 5 years, scientists say survival rates for the two groups were similar. The women who did not receive chemo had a 95 percent survival rate.

According to the findings, nearly half of women with breast cancer who are classified as high risk based on clinical factors may not need chemo. Researchers say, however, the choice to include chemotherapy as part of a treatment regimen remains an individualized decision between doctors and patients. To read more on this study, click here.

In Depth: PA’s Oral Parity Law for Cancer Treatment

Posted By on September 1st, 2016 at 9:31 am | 0 comments.

oral parity law for PL with logo 2Guest author: Kim Kockler, Independence Blue Cross

On July 8, 2016, House Bill 60 was signed into law by Governor Wolf as Act 73.  The legislation requires health insurance companies to provide coverage for oral chemotherapy medications or impose cost sharing on a no less favorable basis than intravenous (IV) or injected chemotherapy medications for cancer patients. The new law is intended to establish a level of parity for patients regardless of the type of cancer chemotherapy medication they are being prescribed – oral medication or injected medication. It is important for consumers to understand the practical implications of the new law. The following are some points to keep in mind:

•    The legislation applies only if a health insurance policy already includes coverage for IV or injected chemotherapy medications that are FDA-approved.

•    Under the law, insurers are prohibited from increasing cost sharing for chemotherapy medications for the purpose of avoiding complying with the law. Cost sharing examples include a co-payment, coinsurance or other out-of-pocket expense a consumer may have as required under their health insurance policy.

•    Oral chemotherapy medications may be subject to a health insurance plan’s prior authorization requirements. This means that the health insurance plan may require the provider who is treating the patient to get prior approval from the health insurance company before medication is dispensed to the patient. The law allows the health insurance company to consider both the medical necessity and cost of the oral chemotherapy medication in comparison to IV or injected chemotherapy medication when making a prior authorization determination.

•    The specific number and type of oral chemotherapy medications that are covered may vary by insurer and type of health plan.

It is also important to note which types of health insurance plans fall under the new law and the effective date. Act 73 applies to health insurance plans purchased by individuals as well as fully-insured small and large group plans offered by employers. The Act does not apply to self-funded plans. For those with insurance provided by their employer, it is best to check with the employer to inquire if the health insurance plan is self-funded.

The new law is effective for plans issued or renewed on or after January 8, 2017 for fully-insured large group health plans.  For individual and small group plans, Act 73 is effective on or after January 1, 2018.
It is recommended that consumers check with their health insurance company to determine specifically how the new law applies to their particular coverage.

Issues Important to YOU: Lymphedema Supplies and Surprise Expenses

Posted By on May 10th, 2016 at 4:23 pm | 0 comments.

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by Pat Halpin-Murphy, President and Founder

After breast cancer surgery, about 20% of women develop some lymphedema, a painful chronic swelling of the arm following removal of lymph nodes. It can develop within days or many years after treatment. There is no known cure for lymphedema and treatment focuses on reducing the swelling and pain. Lymphedema bandages, sleeves, and compression garments offer the best relief. However, those products are not currently covered by Medicare or many insurers and are very costly for a woman who might need to pay out-of-pocket for them.

The PA Breast Cancer Coalition wants to help change that, and you can help make that change happen. If you are on Medicare and found they didn’t cover the garments and sleeves you needed, and were surprised to find that you had to pay for them out-of-pocket … we want to hear from you! Your personal story can make a difference in our efforts.

Tell your story to the PBCC at info@pabreastcancer.org, send a letter to PA Breast Cancer Coalition, 2397 Quentin Road, Suite B, Lebanon, PA 17042, or call 1-800-377-8828 x3020 to share your experiences with Medicare coverage for lymphedema supplies.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Lower Breast Cancer Risk in Obese, Postmenopausal Women

Posted By on April 14th, 2016 at 12:16 pm | 0 comments.

Omega-3-fatty-acidsObesity can be a major cause of breast cancer in postmenopausal women, but omega-3 fatty acids have the potential to lower that risk. A study done by Andrea Manni, professor and division chief of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism, Penn State College of Medicine, showed protection comes from the anti-inflammatory effects from the fatty acid.

Breast density is a breast cancer risk. Manni’s team, in addition to researchers from Emory University and Colorado State University examined the influence of prescription omega-3 supplements on breast density in women of various weights. It is believed that women who are of a higher breast density are more likely to develop breast cancer. Researchers found that increasing the level of omega-3 acids in blood was connected with reduced breast density in women bordering obesity with a body mass index above 29. With this research, a personalized approach to breast cancer prevention can be established.

Learn more about this study. 

3D Mammogram and Ultrasound: $50,000 Research Grant Winner Dr. Wendie Berg Examines Breast Cancer Screenings

Posted By on April 4th, 2016 at 9:41 am | 0 comments.

Study focused on effective screening techniques for women with dense tissue

Which is better at detecting breast cancer in women with dense breasts – an ultrasound or 3D mammogram? Dr. Wendie Berg, MD, PhD, FACR of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC aims to answer that question with her PBCC-funded research.

The PA Breast Cancer Coalition awarded a $50,000 grant to Dr. Berg this week to continue her studies of the two breast cancer screenings. Dr. Berg is specifically interested in screenings for women with dense breasts. Dense breast tissue can hide cancer on a regular 2D mammogram, and often, supplemental screenings are recommended. It is a personal subject for Dr. Berg; her mother was diagnosed when she was in high school and Dr. Berg found her own breast cancer diagnosis through additional testing.

Dr. Berg and her team hope to deter3-30 check presmine if one of the options (ultrasound or 3D mammogram) are best in detecting breast cancer. On October 5, 2015, the PBCC awarded Dr. Berg an extraordinary opportunity grant of $50,000 to jump-start the process. Her study was also chosen to receive a 2016 grant through the PBCC Breast Cancer Research Grants Initiative – a fund comprised of taxpayer donations and private funding from anonymous donors and foundations.

Watch the video below to learn more about Dr. Berg’s breast cancer screening research.

Every Pennsylvania taxpayer has the option to donate their state income tax refund directly to our Research Initiative on Line 32. By choosing Code A, you join our fight to end breast cancer. Didn’t get a refund? Click here to donate now. Our goal in 2016 is to establish an endowment fund for research that enables us to continue our important mission of finding a cure for breast cancer now… so our daughters won’t have to.

Making a Difference through 3D Mammogram Coverage in PA

Posted By on January 15th, 2016 at 9:59 am | 0 comments.

3d-mammogram-for-plAt our October Conference, Pennsylvania became the first state in the nation to include 3D mammogram coverage at no cost to women insured under PA law. Now, effective December 5, 3D mammograms are also available at no cost to women covered by Medicaid in our state. Incredible good news!

The PBCC spoke with Deputy Secretary of the Office of Medical Assistance Programs Leesa Allen about what you need to know and what this means for women’s health care Pennsylvania.  Click the play button below to learn more:

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Hot Flashes? Electroacupuncture Could be the Answer

Posted By on September 16th, 2015 at 8:22 am | 0 comments.

electroacupuncture-for-plA new study points to electroacupuncture as an effective treatment for hot flashes in women who received estrogen-targeted therapies for breast cancer. Researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania studied 120 breast cancer survivors experiencing hot flashes on a daily basis. After 8 weeks, the patients receiving electroacupuncture showed greater results than those taking common drugs used to treat the symptoms.

What is electroacupuncture? Electroacupuncture is a procedure in which embedded needles deliver weak electrical currents to the body. According to the study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, patients say they experienced fewer hot flashes during the electroacupuncture than with other treatments.

To read the complete study results, click here.