Think Pink: Breast Cancer Screening and Your Medical Practice

October 3, 2013
Rachel V. Rose, JD, MBA
Rachel V. Rose, JD, MBA

Rachel V. Rose, JD, MBA, advises clients on compliance and transactions in healthcare, cybersecurity, corporate and securities law, while representing plaintiffs in False Claims Act and Dodd-Frank whistleblower cases. She also teaches bioethics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Rachel can be reached through her website, www.rvrose.com.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an ideal time for providers to educate patients on prevention efforts and the quest for a cure.

October is typically regarded as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Pink items, charitable contributions by retailers, and "Race for the Cure" abound in every state, nationwide. Regardless of a physician's specialty, breast cancer awareness month is a good time to evaluate the following:

• Coordinating referrals between physicians and perhaps establishing a new referral basis;

• Encouraging existing patients to get a mammogram; and

• Using the fundamental preventative care messages (i.e., diet, exercise and regular check-ups) to address other conditions.

This way, a condition may be caught earlier and managed before it gets to a more expensive stage. According to HHS' Office on Women's Health (OWH), 1 in 8 women are affected by breast cancer. Obviously, this number does not include the residual impact the condition has on friends and family members.  The key to a successful outcome can be summed up in the old adage: "an ounce of prevention is cheaper than a pound of cure." In this instance, screening is the best "ounce of prevention" that can enable a more successful treatment prognosis.

For qualified women who are "low-come, uninsured, and underserved" the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP), administered through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), offers timely access to breast and cervical preventative services. The NBCCEDP was created in 1990 when Congress passed the Breast and Cervical Cancer Mortality Prevention Act of 1990 (Pub. L. 101-354) and subsequent amendments are contained in Title 42 USC § 300k. As a follow-up, Congress passed the Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act in 2000, which enabled the states to use Medicaid as the conduit to provide women with access to the NBCCEDP. (Pub. L. 106-354).

In sum, this is a good time for providers to educate their patients on prevention and the quest for a cure in relation to breast cancer. The National Cancer Institute, a federally funded program, is a great resource, as well as the American Cancer Society, Susan B. Komen Foundation, and HHS-OWH.