2011-03-18 / Community

Pheffer Works For Women’s Health Care

Assemblywoman Audrey I. Pheffer has announced that she has joined with Senator John Flanagan to introduce legislation that would provide stronger preventative health care for women. The legislation requires insurance companies to cover the cost of supplemental screening for women who have dense breast tissue or who are at greater risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer.

The legislation would also require that every report a radiologist issues to a patient following a mammogram include information on breast density and information on the availability and usefulness of further screenings. This information will empower women to be more informed about their own medical situation so that they are better equipped to speak with their physicians and make decisions about their own health care.

According to leading medical studies, breast cancer is five times more likely in women with dense breast tissue but mammograms alone miss up to 40 percent of tumors that are present in women with dense breast tissue. By requiring insurance companies to cover supplemental screening tools and doctors to notify their patients of increased risk associated with dense breast tissue, it is believed that this will lead to earlier detection and greater survival rates.

“Breast Cancer has touched the lives of so many New Yorkers. It is important that we enact this legislation to ensure that women have access to the life-saving tools available, and are armed with all the information possible to fight against this disease,” said Pheffer.

The legislation was spurred when the legislators were contacted by JoAnn Pushkin of Dix Hills, a breast cancer survivor turned advocate and co-founder of D.E.N.S.E. (Density Education National Survivors’ Effort). Pushkin’s cancer was diagnosed later than necessary as her annual mammograms were unable to detect a tumor through dense breast tissue. Pushkin worked closely with Senator Flanagan’s office to write the legislation and continues to work with him to make sure that the measure becomes law in New York State.

When women aren’t told about their own breast density, and its inherent risk, we are denied the opportunity and choice to protect and advocate for ourselves. If early detection saves lives is still the golden rule, it is a safety net often denied women with dense breasts. It’s hard to protect yourself against what you haven’t even been told is a threat. It’s impossible to begin a dialog about additional screening tools if you don’t even know you should be asking about it. No one, especially any doctor involved in my health care, should have the option to keep any pertinent health information about me, from me. New York women owe much to Flanagan and Pheffer for bringing public awareness to this issue and for their efforts in introducing this groundbreaking legislation,” said Pushkin.

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