Entries in Cancer Screening (4)


Mammogram Rate Did Not Decline After Controversial Recommendation

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Despite a 2009 recommendation from the United States Preventative Services Task Force that women between the ages of 40 and 49 not undergo routine mammogram breast screenings, mammogram rates actually rose among women in that age group.

The recommendation from the USPSTF was a controversial one, because some experts argued that delayed screening would increase breast cancer deaths.

A recent study in the journal Cancer found that doctors and female patients have largely ignored the recommendation from the USPSTF. Researchers studied data from nearly 28,000 women and found that 53.6 percent of women had a mammogram in 2011, up from 51.9 percent in 2008. Within the population of 40 to 49 year old women, 47.5 percent had a mammogram in 2011, up from 46.1 percent in 2008.

The study did not determine why mammogram rates rose after the recommendation, but did point out that a number of prominent advocacy groups continued to recommend screenings for women between the age of 40 and 49 despite the USPSTF recommendation.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


New Campaign Urges People to Get Screened for Colon Cancer

Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and a new campaign is urging people to get tested for this fatal, but preventable disease.

The Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health in New York City‘s “Make That Call” Campaign stresses the importance that people 50 and older get screened. The screening is simple, painless and can be life-saving, as early detection is crucial to surviving colorectal cancer.

Of cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States.  In 2013, 143,000 people will be diagnosed and 50,000 will not survive the disease. The statistics are startling, especially considering that the disease is preventable. The key is early detection through proper screening.

Director of the Jay Monahan Center, Dr. Felice Schnoll-Sussman stresses that everyone over the age of 50 should get screened, but that younger people are still at risk and should be mindful of the symptoms. If you are experiencing bloating, unexpected weight gain, change in bowel habits, or blood in your stool, it is time to make an appointment.

The Jay Monahan Center was co-founded by ABC’s Katie Couric, and named after her late husband who passed away after a battle with colon cancer in 1998. The clinic focuses on prevention, diagnosis, treatment and support for people suffering from gastrointestinal cancers.

For more information, visit

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Transgender Woman Wins Insurance Coverage for Mammogram

Courtesy Beth Scott(NEW YORK) -- Beth Scott was told by her doctor she needed a mammogram, a cancer screening that health insurance usually covers.

She had the mammogram in June 2010, paying $385 out of pocket. But when she submitted the claim to her insurance company, Scott was denied coverage, because Scott is transgender.

But in an appeal that lasted almost two years, the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund intervened and announced this week that it had resolved Scott's claim, winning a landmark battle with Aetna.

"I am really pleased and glad it went smoothly," said Scott, 44, who for 11 years has worked as a data integrity specialist for a high-tech company, through which she gets her insurance.

"It's something that gives me hope -- by the fact that Aetna apologized and reimbursed me," she said. "Their willingness to treat transgender people is a positive sign."

Her settlement clarified that "these denials would not happen in the future," said TLDEF staff attorney Noah Lewis. "It also added a provision to allow transgender individuals to change their sex on their insurance records by providing a birth certificate or driver's license."

Lewis said denying health coverage for transgender employees was a "widespread problem and not an isolated incident."

Scott's claim was denied on the grounds that it fell under her policy's exclusion treatments "related to changing sex." She was born biologically male but developed breasts after she underwent estrogen treatments when transitioning to female.

But TLDEF argued that the insurance company's interpretation was "overbroad" and should apply only to medical treatments prescribed to change an individual's sex characteristics. It said that a mammogram had nothing to do with a sex change.

"Transgender people should have their health care needs covered by insurance just like everyone else," said Lewis.

"But as long as exclusions remain in place, Ms. Scott's case makes clear that they cannot be used to deny other medically necessary care simply because someone is transgender," he said.

In 2007, she made the physical switch from male to female, first undergoing the surgical shaving of her Adam's apple and following that with hormones. Neither treatment was covered by Aetna.

Aetna told ABC News that it couldn't talk specifically about Scott's case because of privacy laws but clarified that the ruling had been made by a self-funded Aetna health plan run by Scott's employer.

"What we can say, in general, is that a mammogram is covered in a situation like the one described," said Aetna spokeswoman Cynthia B. Michener in an email to ABC News. "Any denial would have been an error corrected by Aetna in administering the claims in the appeals process."

Since 2009, the company has covered breast cancer screenings for female-to-male transgenders who have not had a mastectomy, as well as prostate cancer screenings for male-to-female transgenders who have retained their prostate, according to Michener.

But advocacy groups are fighting for full medical coverage for sex change treatments.

"The consensus in the medical community is that [being transgender] is a medical condition," said Jennifer Levi, director of the Boston-based Transgender Rights Project at Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, or GLAD. "It's legitimate and real and has an established protocol for treatment."

Advocates say it is a discriminatory practice when an employer knowingly hires employees who are transgender and then excludes them from basic workplace benefits, as, they say, was the case with Scott.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Family Cancer History Should Be Updated Regularly, Study Finds

Comstock/Thinkstock(IRVINE, Calif.) -- A family history of cancer is one of the most important factors for assessing an individual’s own cancer risk.  But when should that history be taken, or how frequently?  

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association identifies periods in life when family cancer history is most likely to change -- and in turn change an individual's own cancer risk -- calling for earlier or more intensive screening.

Researchers at the University of California-Irvine reviewed family data from over 15,000 participants in a U.S. national registry for cancer patients from 1999 to 2009.

They found substantial changes in family history of colorectal, breast and prostate cancers between the ages of 30 and 50.  So the percentage of those recommended for high-risk cancer screening increases from one-and-a-half to three-fold during that age bracket.   

The authors recommend that a family cancer history should therefore be updated at least every five to 10 years to appropriately inform recommendations for cancer screening.

Copyright 2011 ABC  News Radio

ABC News Radio