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Thousands of Georgians Would Benefit from Pending Diagnostic Imaging Legislation

Susan G. Komen® Urges Quick Passage in Senate, House to Remove Financial Barriers to Required Breast Imaging

Susan G. Komen®, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, applauds Senator Sheila McNeill (R-Brunswick) and Senator Michael “Doc” Rhett (D-Marietta) for their leadership on legislation led by Komen that would remove financial barriers to imaging that can rule out breast cancer or confirm the need for a biopsy. In 2022 alone, an estimated 9,120 women in Georgia will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 1,410 will die from the disease.

“Everyone should have access to the care they need, especially when it could mean the difference between life and death,” said Molly Guthrie, Senior Director of Public Policy and Advocacy at Susan G. Komen. “Too many cancers are going undetected, but this legislation can make an immediate impact for thousands of people who need a diagnostic test every year and cannot afford it. Catching cancers early leads to better outcomes for anyone diagnosed with breast cancer.”

SB 487 would eliminate out-of-pocket costs for diagnostic breast imaging (such as an MRI, ultrasound, diagnostic mammogram) when a mammogram shows an abnormality in the breast or for those determined to be at high risk. Those exams can be extremely expensive and require people to pay high out-of-pocket costs – all before treatment even begins. A Komen-commissioned study found the costs to patients for diagnostic tests in Georgia range from $124 for a diagnostic mammogram to $2,000 for a breast MRI. The cost of the test prevents women in Georgia from getting them and finding out if a breast abnormality is cancerous.

An estimated 16 percent of people who receive annual screening mammograms get called back for diagnostic imaging. Out-of-pocket costs are also burdensome to those who have previously been diagnosed with breast cancer, as diagnostic tests are often recommended each year rather than traditional screening mammography.

Added Senator Rhett, “Breast cancer care is not just a women’s issue but a family issue! We must all work together to empower women to access the best care and treatment.”

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 demographics. Evidence shows that Black breast cancer patients were diagnosed at a later stage and had a higher mortality rate when compared with their white counterparts with the same insurance status.

“This piece of legislation is vitally important and will expand access to life-saving diagnostic breast imaging for women who have received that terrifying phone call after an abnormal screening mammogram. Because of the cost associated with diagnostic imaging, many women delay or forego follow-up tests to rule out or confirm a breast cancer diagnosis,” said Senator McNeill. “This delay could mean a woman will not seek care until the cancer has spread to other parts of her body, making it much more deadly and five times more expensive to treat. We must support this bill to ensure that women have access to get early detection and avoid, if possible, the cancer spreading throughout their bodies.”