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Susan G. Komen® Commends Introduction of Diagnostic Imaging Legislation in Oklahoma

Thousands of Oklahomans Would Benefit by Removing Barriers to Required Breast Imaging

Susan G. Komen®, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, applauds Senator Brenda Stanley (R-Midwest City) and Representative Melissa Provenzano (D-Tulsa) for 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 3,280 women are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer and 570 will die of the disease in Oklahoma.

“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.”

HB 3504 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 range from $234 for a diagnostic mammogram to $1,021 for a breast. The cost of the test prevents women in Oklahoma from getting the imaging they require and continuing in the early detection process to determine 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.

“A diagnostic mammogram is ordered by your doctor when your annual screening mammogram detects something of concern. It is a much more precise test, and to ignore the recommendation for this test due to prohibitive cost is to ignore your health,” said Representative Melissa Provenzano. “Coverage for diagnostic mammograms are hit and miss, depending on insurance. For such a critical need, coverage should not be a limiting factor for access to this procedure. Early detection is a key to stopping cancer in its tracks.” 

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.

“Diagnostic imaging is a critical step in the early detection of breast cancer. Texas and Arkansas have already addressed this vital step to ensure coverage is not a hurdle for access to this procedure,” said Senator Brenda Stanley. “With early detection these exams can save lives by beginning the treatment process earlier. This isn’t a Republican or a Democrat issue its about doing what’s right for Oklahoma! It’s the right thing to do, it makes economic sense, and will result in better health outcomes for women across our state!”