PRESIDENT AND THE FIRST LADY ANNOUNCE NEW INITIATIVES TO IMPROVE PREVENTION AND EARLY DETECTION OF BREAST CANCER
Until [we find a cure], we know that early detection is the most potent weapon we possess in our battle against breast cancer, and we know that mammography is the best way to detect breast cancer so that it can be treated before it's too late. The First Lady and I have worked hard to make mammograms available to more women and to encourage more women to get mammograms.
In the Saturday Radio Address, the President and the First Lady announced new steps to ensure that more women get regular, high quality mammograms. Early detection, followed by prompt treatment, can reduce the risk of death by as much as 30 percent. However, a mammogram can fail to do its job because of poor medical techniques, processing or reading of the films; inadequate record keeping and reporting of results, and lack of effective quality assurance controls. In 1995, about 35 percent of mammography facilities that sought accreditation initially failed the quality requirements. Moreover, far too few women get regular mammograms. Thirty-three percent of women ages 50 to 64, and 45 percent of women over age 65 reported not receiving a mammogram in the last two years. The initiatives the President and the First Lady are announcing include:
Improving Quality Standards of the Mammography Facilities Nationwide. The new FDA regulations that were announced, authorized by the Mammography Quality Standards Act (MSQA), set new high standards for mammography facilities, including requiring facilities to hire capable technologists, to use equipment that produces clear and accurate images, and to ensure that physicians have the skills to interpret the rules. It also requires facilities to display their FDA certification and requires that patients be fully informed of results of a mammogram so that follow up testing and treatment can begin immediately. The National Breast Cancer Coalition applauded the implementation of the final regulations stating that "this Rule will ensure that every woman in America will receive the highest quality mammography."
Initiating a New Mammography Education Campaign at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The NCI is initiating a new national education campaign that provides women and their families and health professionals clear, up-to-date information about steps they should take to detect mammography and breast cancer. The NCI materials provide information about the risk factors for breast cancer, the benefits and limitations of mammography, and the importance of regular mammograms for women in their 40s and older. They also highlight breast cancer incidence and mortality rates for women in different racial/ethnic groups.
Launching the First Lady's National Annual Medicare Mammography Campaign. Each year the First Lady has launched a mammography campaign to encourage older women to get mammograms. To encourage more older women to get regular mammograms, this year the First Lady's campaign includes:
HORIZON Grants to Improve Mammography Rates Among Minority Women. This year the Health Care Financing Administration has focused the Medicare mammography campaign to reach minority Medicare beneficiaries who are even less likely to get mammography screenings.
BUILDING ON THE PRESIDENT'S STRONG RECORD IN THE FIGHT AGAINST BREAST CANCER.
A Long Record in Fighting Breast Cancer. The President has taken a number of important steps to fight breast cancer. Since the President took office funding for breast cancer research, prevention and treatment has nearly doubled to over $500 million in 1997. The Balanced Budget Act took steps to encourage more women to get regular mammograms by waiving deductibles for all mammograms and covering mammograms on an annual basis. In addition, the balanced budget also expanded coverage to pay for annual screening mammograms all Medicare beneficiaries age 40 and over, making coverage consistent with the new recommendations of national experts.