NEW GUIDELINES FOR BREAST HEALTH

By Elizabeth Meier

The American Cancer Society now advises that women with an “unusually high risk of developing breast cancer, as well as women newly diagnosed with breast cancer” have an annual breast MRI performed in addition to an annual clinical breast exam and mammogram. An MRI “revealed cancers in the opposite breast that were missed by ordinary mammograms in 3 percent of cancer survivors” involved in a new medical study. An MRI is a diagnostic scan that can examine soft tissues, organs and bones. MRIs show soft tissue abnormalities and injuries with great specificity and articulation. The MRI scan is an outpatient procedure; afterwards you will be able to resume your day-to-day life. The current breast cancer screening guidelines for the American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute, and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force can be seen below.

Current breast cancer screening guidelines by organization*

American Cancer Society
Annual mammogram for women ages 40 and over.
Clinical breast exam every two to three years for women ages 20 to 40, and annually for women ages 40 and over.
Annual breast MRI for women whose lifetime risk of breast cancer is greater than 20%. Women whose risk is 15% to 20% should discuss the risks and benefits of annual breast MRI with their doctor to determine whether it is appropriate for them.

National Cancer Institute
Mammogram every one to two years for women ages 40 and over.
Clinical breast exam every one to two years.

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
Mammography with or without clinical breast examination every one to two years for women ages 40 and over.

*All of the groups consider breast self-exam, which has not been demonstrated to save lives, to be optional. They also set no upper age limit on mammography, instead advising annual mammograms for any woman who can realistically expect to live at least five more years and would be a candidate for treatment should she be diagnosed with breast cancer.
(http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/MRIs-emerging-role-in-breast-cancer-screening.htm)

“MRI’s value in detecting breast cancer is most evident in studies involving women at high risk for the disease. In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2004, Dutch researchers followed 1,900 women with a risk of breast cancer greater than 15% due to genetic mutations or family history. (The average lifetime risk is 12.7%.) For nearly three years, the women received yearly MRIs as well as semiannual clinical breast exams and yearly mammograms. Mammography detected 18 cancers but missed 22 that were found on MRI. MRI found 32 cancers and missed only eight that showed up on mammograms.” (Health.Harvard.edu)

“Breast Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a 3-dimensional test to evaluate the breasts. You are placed on your belly on a table that is surrounded by a tubular structure and requires you to lie still for about 20 minutes. A material called gadolinium is used for contrast and is injected prior to going in the tube. There is no radiation exposure. The test looks at the blood flow in your breasts and areas will “light up” if there is increased blood flow. It is important to note that certain conditions may prevent you from having this test. These include any metal in your body, any previous allergic reaction to gadolinium contrast material, claustrophobia and too much weight. The MRI is a magnet so any metal will be attracted to the machine. There is a maximum weight limit so being too heavy may also prevent testing. Breast MRI seems to be a good tool for women who have very dense breasts, where mammograms may be limited in viewing the breasts well.” (Doctor Oz)

The risk involved in having an MRI performed is minimal to non-existent. An MRI scan is one of the safest exams performed. MRIs do not use radiation, as opposed to X-Rays. However, MRI does have some limitations – If you have a pacemaker or certain body implants then you should not have an MRI scan. Be sure to ask your doctor if you have either (MRISG). The high cost of the MRI scan is one of its limitations; NBC News reports that while a mammogram costs roughly $100 to $150, an MRI can cost $2,000 or more at some medical centers, experts said. “It’s very, very expensive,” said Robert Smith, the cancer society’s director of cancer screening. Many insurers cover MRI screenings, but not all do, Smith and others said.

Thankfully, there are organizations such as MRI Scan Group (MRISG), who work with uninsured and underinsured patients to find them an affordable, reduced-cost scan at a location nearest them. With the help of MRISG, patients can receive a breast MRI at a fraction of the cost found at most medical centers. If you are at high risk of developing breast cancer, or have been newly diagnosed with breast cancer, take some of the financial stress out of the equation by using MRI Scan Group to locate an affordable breast MRI at a center near you. Visit their website for more information: http://mriscangroup.com/index.php

RESOURCES:

http://mriscangroup.com/index.php

http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/MRIs-emerging-role-in-breast-cancer-screening.htm

http://www.doctoroz.com/blog/katherine-lee-md/breast-mri-who-should-get-one

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/17818068/#.UcnJrPnVCKE

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YOU BETTER SHOP AROUND… FOR AN MRI!

By Norman McPhail

Being uninsured and needing an MRI in the United States can be an overwhelming experience. The health care/diagnostic imaging business is a tangled web of confusion. Prices for a scan can set you back upwards of $2,000 per scan (Ouch)! The question is: How can you find a competitive priced scan to fit the uninsured budget?

In an emergency, you might not have the option to choose a facility for imaging services. Uninsured diagnostic imaging patients usually don’t need to have the scan done same day and thus have time to shop. The problem is that most people without insurance don’t realize that they CAN shop around. But YOU do! The best way to fight back is to do your homework. Just like when you are buying a car or new TV; shop around! You can search by price or location & scan type. If you do your research right, you could save THOUSANDS of dollars.

Imaging rates are negotiated between insurance companies, physicians, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies. The negotiated rates are normally shielded and not made available to the public. These shielded rates make it a muddy mess for uninsured patients to research and compare prices. The good news is that negotiated rates only apply to insurance companies. You do have options being uninsured and needing to pay for your health care out of your pocket.

My go-to tool for diagnostic image shopping is the internet! The internet will help you find the imaging services you need, for a price that won’t break the bank. Price comparison websites such as Healthcare Blue Book, New Choice Health and MRI Scan Group can assist you in making an informed decision that won’t break the bank. Affordable imaging is available at your fingertips, so get those piggies moving!

Doctor Delay: Why People Put Off Getting Routine Medical Attention

Written By Elizabeth Meier

There is a growing trend in America recently of patients delaying routine medical checkups and testing. In this day and age, when the keys to good health are literally right at our fingertips, what keeps a large percent of the population from taking the necessary steps to stay updated on their health? Why would we delay important health safeguards, such as routine doctor visits, standard tests and diagnostic imaging?

Cost. Time. Fear. What is the reason that you put off going to the doctor? Do you find yourself delaying routine checkups, or medical tests? Do you make sure your children see their doctor regularly, but you don’t make it a priority for yourself? What is it that makes the average person delay getting routine medical attention?

Cost. In the last few years in the United States, the average job wages have fallen, while the cost of health care has gone up. In an article on this topic in the Huffington Post, Jeffrey Young writes, “A new survey shows more than a one-quarter of Americans had trouble with medical bills in the last year… Costs led 58 percent of people to put off or go without health care they needed in the previous 12 months, a increase from 50 percent last August, says a survey released Monday by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit research organization based in Menlo Park, Calif. Americans skipped doctor and dentist visits, didn’t receive diagnostic tests, didn’t take their medicines, cut pills in half or took other steps to save money that could make them less healthy, the survey found.” Costs for medical procedures and testing, medications and health service have skyrocketed, which has led to an increase in health insurance premiums and/or deductibles. The number of uninsured in America has steadily risen in relation to this epidemic.

Time. Who has the time to go to the doctor? With a daily or weekly schedule that includes work, gym, child pickups, grocery shopping, dinner, and let’s not forget to mention the commuting in between, it is easy to put off or find yourself continuously rescheduling that doctor’s appointment that you feel is not urgent. Jessica Larsen in her La Cosse Tribune article said, “There’s just not enough (time). Between work, school, kids and cleaning, who has time to sit in a clinic waiting room? Moms and caregivers are especially guilty of putting visits off. Even doctors claim the “too busy” card. One doctor admits he sometimes gets behind on going to his eye appointments. ‘Society is so busy. We’re all working 60-hour weeks, have three kids —last thing on anyone’s mind is taking a day off, not get paid, and going to see a doctor,’ he said.”
Fear. Iatrophobia – the fear of going to the doctor. Claustrophobia – the fear of enclosed spaces. Radiophobia – the fear of radiation or X-rays. Mechanophobia – the fear of machines.
Having one or several of these common fears is enough to make you run screaming in the other direction when it comes to going to the doctor, or having medical tests performed. However, the fear of the unknown hopefully wins out in this medical battle royale. It is common to avoid hearing bad news, and most of us expect the worst when it comes to medical tests, but that fear should not stand in the way of having good health confirmed, or a minor worrisome issue taken care of once and for all!

This blog written by staff at MRI Scan Group – a nation-wide referral service for diagnostic imaging. Contact us at 1-866-674-8840, or on our website at http://www.mriscangroup.com/.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/11/health-care-costs_n_1587284.html

http://lacrossetribune.com/news/local/procrastination-has-real-consequences-when-it-comes-to-going-to/article_67afc6bc-dead-11e1-9cbc-001a4bcf887a.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_phobias