Mammograms have been something most people dread getting and they can be costly if you aren’t covered. Mammograms can cost between $75 and $250. However, it is the most effective way to discover and/or prevent breast cancer. Now, for the first time in 20 years, the Food and Drug Administration has proposed mammogram changes that may make early detection easier.
The proposal aims to help patients identify the risks of breast cancer earlier. If accepted, it will amend regulations under the Mammography Quality Standards Act (1992).
Mammogram Changes to Improve Early Detection
“The new proposed rule on mammography will require, for the first time under federal rules, that women receive information about breast density to better inform their healthcare decisions,” Scott Gottlieb (FDA Commissioner) said in a statement.
More than 50 percent of women over 40 in the United States have dense breasts, making them more prone to developing breast cancer. Under the new proposal, women with dense breasts will be notified by their physician that they have a higher risk of breast cancer and provide them with more information.
For women with dense breasts, X-ray results are not always accurate. This is because tumors can go undetected behind the dense breast tissue. Currently, there is no federal regulation to alert patients to the fact that they are more prone due to dense tissue. It has been up to the states to determine whether or not it would be required.
When women are informed about this, the FDA has proposed language that will help them weigh out their options. It will tell women if they should do more imaging tests or talk to their doctors.
Gottlieb noted, “Breast cancer is one of the most worrisome health concerns facing women. As part of our overall commitment to protecting the health of women, we’re proposing new policies to modernize our oversight of mammography services.”
Low-Cost and Free Mammograms
Women over the age of 40 simply should not skip their annual mammogram. They help identify between 85 and 90 percent of all breast cancer cases. If you are a woman that needs a mammogram but are concerned about the cost, there are a number of options available to you.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, many organizations offer free or low-cost mammograms for women. Look around for deals or freebies throughout the month of October. Both Planned Parenthood and YWCA Encore Plus Programs have been known to offer free breast exams during Awareness Month.
FDA-Certified Mammography Facilities
The FDA also has a number of certified facilities where you can get free and discounted mammograms. Machines used at FDA facilities are maintained and checked annually. Although the service is free, it must be done with the same quality and care as a full-price screening. All you need to do to find the FDA facility closet to you is Google “FDA-approved mammography” with your zip code.