Archive for the ‘News’ Category

From the desk of: PA Rep. Matt Baker

Posted By on October 17th, 2016 at 3:53 pm | 0 comments.

rep-baker-headshot-for-plHouse Health Committee Chair sheds light on what Breast Cancer Awareness Month means to him

This past year I was humbled and honored to receive the PA. Breast Cancer Coalition Pink Ribbon award, their highest award, and dedicate it to my sister-in-law fighting a rare form of inflammatory breast cancer.

Every woman who conquers breast cancer has an amazing story to share of their journey.  The one common thread in every story is that early detection saves lives.  October is “Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” and it’s hard to forget with pink ribbons, ties, and professional athletes wearing pink.

The statistics bear repeating.  One in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.  Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and is the second leading cause of cancer death among women.  Each year, more than 246,660 women and 40,000 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the nation.

One statistic that is trending in a positive direction is the number of people – 2.8 million – who are breast cancer survivors.  They are living full lives after having been diagnosed.

Pennsylvania is making strides in the continued effort to support those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.  The Breast Density Notification Act requires mammography providers to notify women categorized as having dense breast tissue and about their condition.  Knowledge is power and this law has improved detection and prevention by educating patients about dense breast tissue and how it could conceal possible abnormalities during mammographic procedures.

Three-dimensional mammograms were approved by the Food and Drug Administration five years ago.  In 2014, the American College of Radiology declared tomosynthesis, the medical term for three-dimensional mammography, to no longer be a mere investigational tool.  Pennsylvania followed up last year by becoming the first state to require insurers to cover all screening mammograms, including the 3-D versions, at no out-of-pocket cost to consumers.  To see a list of the mammography facilities that offer 3D mammograms in Pennsylvania, please visit the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition’s website at

In July Pennsylvania became the 42nd state to provide patients equal access to anti-cancer treatments with the enactment of oral chemotherapy legislation (Act 73 of 2016).  I was proud to author the enabling Oral Chemo Parity Legislation (House Bill 60).

Chemotherapy can have a violent effect on the human body as it does its job.  Oral chemotherapy drugs are often as strong as those administered intravenously and may have fewer side effects.  In some instances, oral medications are the only form of chemotherapy a patient can handle.

There is also the financial impact.  Prior to Act 73, orally-administered chemotherapy was covered under a health plan’s pharmacy benefit, which required patients to pay a percentage of the total cost of the drug (generally between 25-30 percent).  This created an enormous financial barrier for patients to access these drugs prescribed by their cancer physician for treatment.  Act 73 prohibits insurance policies from placing oral anti-cancer medications on a specialty tier or charging a copay for the medication.

Hopefully, these measures will help in saving lives and make treatment of breast cancer more tolerable and successful.  The end goal is to eradicate this disease.  Continued support of innovative and high-impact research will someday hopefully lead to the cure.

First in the Nation: Governor Wolf Signs Statement Covering 3D Mammograms in PA

Posted By on August 16th, 2016 at 10:15 am | 0 comments.

Pat and Governor Wolf rounded cornersOn October 5, 2015, Governor Tom Wolf made Pennsylvania the first state in the nation to require insurance coverage of 3D screening mammograms for women insured under PA law. First Lady Frances Wolf made the historic announcement almost one year ago at the PA Breast Cancer Coalition Conference in Harrisburg. Now, 3D screenings mammograms are covered at no additional cost to insured women and women covered through Medicaid.

To mark the 1st anniversary of the groundbreaking news, the PBCC is informing women across the state about how to access 3D screening mammograms in their area. We’ve launched a 1-question survey of all mammography centers. At our Conference October 10, we will release a list of the Pennsylvania 3D mammography centers. The list will also be published on our website, in our Frontline newsletter and right here in PinkLink.

Do you work for a mammography center that offers 3D screening mammograms? Don’t miss the list! Take the survey now and make sure your facility is listed as a 3D mammography provider.

Take the survey button

VP’s Moonshot Summit Focuses on Future of Cancer Prevention, Treatment

Posted By on July 14th, 2016 at 9:25 am | 0 comments.

Moonshot Summit for PL roundedPBCC President and Founder Pat Halpin-Murphy was among doctors, patients and advocates invited to the Cancer Moonshot Summit at Fox Chase Cancer Center on June 29. The national effort spearheaded by Vice President Joe Biden aims to advance cancer research, increase patient access to treatment and to support patients across the country.

The ultimate goal of the Cancer Moonshot is to double the rate of progress toward a cure for cancer. The PA Breast Cancer Coalition was honored to be part of this historic event!

Click here to watch Vice President Joe Biden’s remarks from the summit.

Click here to watch the recording of Fox Chase’s moonshot summit.


Issues Important to YOU: Lymphedema Supplies and Surprise Expenses

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


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, 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.

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.

Surprise! More Pennsylvanians Receiving Unexpected Medical Bills

Posted By on March 15th, 2016 at 9:40 am | 0 comments.

woman-with-bills-for-pl2Medical bills can already be a hassle, but what do you do when they arrive out of the blue? Here’s how it happens: When a patient receives care at a facility that is considered in-network by her insurer, but a doctor who treated them at that facility is considered out-of-network, the patient is responsible for an extra fee. It happens even if the patient had no way of knowing the doctor is out of network. These “surprise” medical bills can be a financial burden on families, causing many personal bankruptcies. The PA Insurance Commission will be proposing legislation to protect health care consumers in our state.  We will keep you informed on this important issue!

Click here to see the proposed solution.

World Cancer Day 2016: A Day to Take Action

Posted By on February 4th, 2016 at 8:21 am | 0 comments.


Today is World Cancer Day!  It’s a day that unites the world’s population in the fight against cancer.  Here at the PA Breast Cancer Coalition, we are dedicated to fighting breast cancer every day and YOU can help us!  Want to know how?  Make this World Cancer Day a day to take action:

Schedule your annual mammogram and/or tell a friend to do the same

  • We’re all busy, but not too busy to know the importance of early detection. By scheduling your mammogram, you’re taking time to ensure you are healthy and that is more than worth it.  It could save your life!  P.S. While you’re there, check to see if you have dense breast tissue and, if you do, ask about supplemental screenings beyond the regular mammogram like ultrasounds, MRIs or tomosynthesis (3D mammograms). FREE mammograms are available in PA. Click here to find learn more

Request a FREE Friends Like Me Care Package for a loved one recently diagnosed with breast cancer

  • The PA Breast Cancer Coalition offers free care packages full of information, educational materials, books, small gifts and headwraps for women in Pennsylvania who have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer (packages are most helpful within the first 6 months).  If you have been diagnosed or you know someone who has been, click here to request a free package today.

Support life-saving legislation in Pennsylvania

  • The PA Breast Cancer Coalition worked with Sen. Bob Mensch to pass the Breast Density Notification Act requiring mammography centers to notify women of their breast density. Now, we are working on Senate Bill 842 which would require supplemental screenings like MRIs or ultrasounds to be covered for women insured in PA. Those screenings may show something that may be missed on a traditional 2D mammogram. What can YOU do?  Contact your state senator and ask him/her to support this important bill! Click here to find your lawmaker and contact information. Click here to read Senate Bill 842.

Help researchers find a cure

  • Time to start talking taxes again! This year, why not put that state income tax refund to good use? Every Pennsylvania taxpayer has the option to donate all or part of their state income tax refund on Line 32 directly to Pennsylvania breast cancer researchers.  Choose code “A” and your refund will go toward our PBCC Breast Cancer Research grants Initiative.  We have pledged $300,000 in grants this year alone.  Make a difference with us!
  • Didn’t get a refund?  Make a private donation to the PBCC today! Click here to donate now.

Volunteer or become a PBCC Grassroots Partner!

  • The PBCC is always looking for volunteers across the state! Whether it’s a few hours once a year or you are looking for something more involved, we have an opportunity for you! Click here to view our opportunities and learn more today. Looking to do even more?  Become a Grassroots Partner and host your own event in your community. Click here to find out how you can give back and make a difference for women and families in Pennsylvania.

Did you take action today? Share it on Facebook and Twitter with us!


President’s Corner: American Cancer Society Clarifies Mammogram Recommendations

Posted By on January 15th, 2016 at 10:03 am | 0 comments.

patheadshotforplby Pat Halpin-Murphy, President and Founder

You may recall, in October, the American Cancer Society (ACS) issued new mammography guidelines which raised concerns, especially for us here at the PA Breast Cancer Coalition. The ACS recommendations suggest women begin annual mammograms at age 45 and every other year beginning at age 55. The PA Breast Cancer Coalition believes that starting mammograms at 40 is the gold standard. Another concern with the ACS recommendations was the possibility that insurance companies could use the guidelines as an opportunity to eliminate free mammograms for many women.

We know that Pennsylvania insurance agency representatives have already indicated their desire to roll back PA’s guarantee of free mammograms for state-insured women.

In response, Dr. Richard Wender, Chief Cancer Control Officer for the American Cancer Society sent a letter addressing our concerns to the PA Secretary of Health and PA Insurance Commissioner, clarifying the intent of the latest mammography guidelines.

Dr-Wender-quote-2The letter further explains the ACS recommendations, stressing the importance of a woman’s consultation with her doctor. The PBCC applauds and thanks the American Cancer Society for adressing these concerns, for providing a more in-depth explanation of its screening guidelines and for making it clear that they, in no way, support removing current insurance coverage for women 40 to 45 in our state.

Read the complete letter from Dr. Richard Wender on behalf of the American Cancer Society here.

UPDATE: The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released its latest mammography guidelines, recommending women begin screening at age 50. The PBCC strongly diagrees. Click here to read our press release.