Legislation increases access to essential breast cancer screenings
[Neenah, Wis.] – Today, breast cancer fighter and women’s health advocate, Gail Zeamer, released a new video aimed at passage of Assembly Bill 416/Senate Bill 413. The legislation, which is currently working its way through the State Legislature in Madison, would increase access to essential breast cancer screenings for higher-risk women.
Click here to watch the video advocating for the passage of AB 416/SB 413.
In 2016, Zeamer was diagnosed with Stage 3, late-stage breast cancer. Her diagnosis came as a surprise because she never missed her annual mammogram. As she later learned, she was part of the nearly 50% of women in the US who have dense breast tissue. Another common fact she learned was that dense breast tissue can hide cancer on mammograms. Since her diagnosis, Zeamer dedicates much of her time advocating for key breast cancer screening policies so that other women do not share her story. She was a critical champion for the Wisconsin Breast Density Notification Law, making Wisconsin the 32nd state in the nation to require a facility that performs mammograms to inform patients determined to have dense breast tissue with a notice and specific information about dense breast tissue.
Despite this progress, there is more to be done. Informing women of their breast density is the first step. Helping women to afford the lifesaving screenings they need to catch cancers earlier in dense breast tissue is what Zeamer fights for now. AB 416/SB 413 would expand access to breast cancer screenings by capping out-of-pocket costs at $50. Right now, for women with dense breasts, the average out-of-pocket costs for essential breast screenings can range from $250 to $1,084. This legislation ensures that women, regardless of their breast cancer risk and socio-economic background, not only receive the information necessary for them to advocate for their own health, but also access the lifesaving screenings they need and deserve.
Though Zeamer recently learned her cancer has advanced to Stage 4, she continues to advocate for herself, her family, and fellow women in Wisconsin. “Passage of AB 416/SB 413 would ensure that all women have access to essential breast cancer screenings – care that would have caught my cancer earlier and probably saved my life,” said Zeamer. “I implore state lawmakers to take action for the thousands of women in Wisconsin who can still be helped, before it’s too late.”
Awareness of breast cancer and dense breast tissue is critically important for women:
- 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime
- Nearly 50% of women in the U.S. over the age of 40 getting mammograms have dense breast tissue
- Women should speak with their doctors and discuss if additional tests beyond mammography, including ultrasound or MRI, are appropriate
- Mammograms are only 56.1% effective in dense tissue
- An early cancer diagnosis costs 154% less to treat than a late-stage diagnosis
State legislators now have an opportunity to exhibit leadership and unite in bipartisan fashion for women across Wisconsin. More information on the legislation can be found here.