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Introduction of diagnostic and supplemental imaging legislation could benefit thousands of Missourians

Press releases may be edited for formatting or style | January 17, 2023 Women's Health
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI – JANUARY 10, 2023 – Susan G. Komen®, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, applauds Representative Brenda Shields (R-St. Joseph) for working with Komen to introduce legislation that would remove financial barriers to imaging that can rule out breast cancer or confirm the need for a biopsy. Last year alone, more than 5,560 individuals were diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 820 died of the disease in Missouri.

“This legislation can make an immediate impact for thousands of people who require diagnostic or supplemental breast imaging yet are unable to afford it and often forego the tests,” said Molly Guthrie, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy at Susan G. Komen. “Everyone should be able to access the care they need and afford it, especially when it could mean the difference between a person’s life and death.”

HB 575, introduced by Rep. Shields, would eliminate out-of-pocket costs for diagnostic and supplemental breast imaging (such as an MRI, ultrasound, diagnostic mammogram) when medically necessary. These exams can be extremely expensive and require people to pay high out-of-pocket costs – all before more expensive treatment even begins.

A Komen-commissioned study found the costs to patients range from $234 for a diagnostic mammogram to more than $1,021 for a breast MRI. The cost of the test prevents individuals in Missouri from getting the imaging they require, making it difficult to detect their breast cancer as early as possible.

An estimated 16 percent of people who receive annual screening mammograms nationwide get called back for diagnostic imaging. Additionally, these tests are often recommended for those who have previously been diagnosed with breast cancer and for some individuals who are considered at high-risk for breast cancer, making their out-of-pocket costs particularly burdensome to those individuals.

“When the threat of breast cancer rears its head, women and their doctors need every tool available to for an accurate diagnosis,” said Rep. Shields. “Early detection is vital to protecting the women of Missouri – and insurance coverage of diagnostic mammograms should not stand in the way of Missourians’ access to this life-saving technology. This bill will save lives by ensuring treatment can begin as early as possible.”

The use of breast cancer screening and follow-up diagnostics have led to significant increases in the early detection of breast cancer in the past 30 years. However, this is not true across all demographics. Evidence shows that Black and Hispanic breast cancer patients tend to be diagnosed at a later stage, perhaps due to delays in follow-up imaging after abnormal findings on an annual mammogram. More diagnostic and supplemental breast imaging is likely going to be needed due to “missed” breast cancers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts warn that missed mammograms could lead to more later-stage breast cancer diagnoses, once detected, so it is critically important that we increase access to affordable tests to those who medically require it.

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