Breast Cancer Screenings
It is almost impossible for you or your physician to accurately assess your risk factors for breast cancer when so many factors (including whether or not you work the night shift and your genetics) are possible or known contributors to developing this only partially gender biased disease.
However, when you have an annual examination, your physician should be assessing your risk level – probably using the Gail Model from the National Cancer Institute. If they feel anything suspicious or believe that you are at high risk, they should recommend a mammogram, which is often the end of the story.
That is, unless you have a higher lifetime risk of breast cancer, whereas the American Cancer Society recommends further following up with an MRI for any patient with an elevated lifetime risk.
Out of 1246 Patients Referred for MRI Follow-ups, Only 173 Went – Why??
This is where things can get all scientific with more stats and so on, but the ones above from the journal, Academic Radiology, are convincing enough for us to know that hardly any patients are taking these recommendations. Let’s explore a few possibilities of why this disconnect is so pervasive.
MRI Recommendations Often Don’t Get to Patients
Mammogram results get sent to general physicians along with recommendations for an MRI or follow-up testing. Unfortunately, these things can slip through the cracks. Knowing whether you are at high-risk can foster your mind to follow up yourself with your mammogram results, not wait on a doctor to do it for you.
Insurance Coverage More Available but Most Clinics Aren’t On Board
Surprisingly, most insurance companies joined the cause to allow women to take charge of their health by covering the cost of MRIs when the proper recommendations are made. However, there seems to be a disconnection between physicians and clinics and the health care system. Unfortunately, many do not ever advise their high-risk patients for a potentially life saving MRI.
Are People Their Own Worst Enemy When it Comes to Breast Cancer?
Honestly, they certainly can be. A large number of those 1246 patients decided not to return out of fear of the unknown. Understandable, but unwise. Every day counts with cancer, particularly in the younger population.
Financial reasons may seem quite valid when it comes to paying out of pocket for an MRI when even many insured struggle to meet their deductible. Again, understandable. So, how much did they decide their life was worth when making that call?
Don’t become part of these statistics or those pertaining to breast cancer victims. Inquire about your risk factors with every checkup and find out how you can take better control of your medical care.