Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Thanks to a new state law that took effect Nov. 1, more women in Oklahoma may be able to get a potentially lifesaving three-dimensional (3D) mammogram to screen for breast cancer.

The new law requires that health benefit plans include coverage for mammography screening, which may include coverage for 3D mammography, also known as breast tomosynthesis.

A 3D mammogram compresses a patient’s breast between two plates and takes a series of X-ray images of the breast in “slices” from different angles, much like a CT scan. Computer software then reconstructs an image of the breast so the medical team can get a closer look layer by layer to reveal any abnormalities. This means better breast cancer detection and less of a chance that a patient will need additional tests.

“We are so excited that there is finally a state law that gives more women the opportunity to get a mammogram without an added expense,” said Cindy Barghols, supervisor of the Norman Regional Breast Care Center. “Access to mammography — whether a 2D or 3D study — may save lives by revealing breast cancer early.”

Research has shown that 3D mammography detects 41 percent more invasive breast cancers and 27 percent more breast cancers overall than conventional 2D digital mammography. There is also a 37 percent reduction in the need for additional (callback) mammograms and an 11 percent reduction in unnecessary breast biopsies.

Norman Regional Health System has offered 3D mammography since 2015[JB1] . Women who come in for a mammogram can choose between a 2D or 3D mammogram. If a patient’s insurance does not cover the 3D mammogram but they prefer the advanced imaging, they can opt for a 3D mammogram with a maximum out-of-pocket expense of $55.

When to Screen

Mammograms are the single most effective method of early breast cancer detection. For women 40 and older, mammograms should be part of a yearly physical routine. Women who are under 40 and have a family history of breast cancer or other concerns about their risk should speak with their doctor to determine when to begin mammography. Monthly breast self-examinations are also important for good breast health.

Health insurance coverage of mammography services varies by health insurance carrier. Please check with your insurance company to learn more about what services are covered.

To schedule a mammogram at Norman Regional Moore or Women’s Healthcare Plaza in Norman, call 405-307-2290. For more information about Norman Regional’s breast care services, visit normanregional.com/services/breast-care-center.