We are pleased with the efforts of our Society, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, in gaining legislation to empower women with breast cancer to better understand their care choices. 2012 alone saw the new diagnosis of >220,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer in the United States, not to mention the new diagnoses of in situ types such as DCIS and LCIS. We are in full support of H.R. 5937, the “Breast Cancer Patient Education Act”, which was introduced through legislation this past year.
Since 1998 with the Women’s Health & Cancer Rights (WHCR) Act, health plans that allow for breast cancer coverage are required to provide coverage for prostheses and breast reconstruction as well. However, of all women diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States, only 1/3 of these women will undergo breast reconstruction. Moreover, nearly 7 of every 10 women are not even informed of the options for breast reconstruction. The most common reasons being that they were not informed of their option to pursue such or they were not referred to a plastic surgeon to discuss the options available.
This “Breast Cancer Patient Education Act” requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to plan and implement a campaign for education of patients for the purpose of providing breast cancer patients with information about the availability and options for breast reconstruction as well as coverage for such. Also, it will provide information on prostheses, prosthetic garments, and other options available to them. The Secretary is to develop information for distribution or have others produce for distribution, which would include the information above such as timing, options, and available clothing/prosthetic options. It will also include information about the previously enacted WHCR Act. Several states have already enacted laws to require women to receive such information.
ASPS president Dr. Malcolm Roth stated, “The Breast Cancer Patient Education Act will get the best information in the hands of women and their families to empower them in making the best choice for their care…Knowledge is power. Federal law has long required coverage for reconstruction and prostheses and no woman should be denied the right to choose the care they need just because they were not aware of their choices.”
We are very proud of the efforts of our Society and hope that this will assist others in making fully informed decisions in regards to their health care.
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