The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) has announced its strong support for the Breast Cancer Patient Education Act. Its release coincided with National Women’s Health Week in the US. The legislation was introduced in the US House of Representatives by Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and Donna Christensen, M.D. (D-VI), and in the US Senate by Roy Blunt (R-MO), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), with Jon Tester (D-MT) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) as original co-sponsors.

Since 1998, health plans that offer breast cancer coverage have been required to provide coverage for breast reconstruction and prosthesis. Yet published research shows that many women eligible for breast reconstruction following breast cancer, minorities in particular, are not informed of the variety of care options. Approximately 232,340 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, according to the American Cancer Society’s most recent estimates for breast cancer in the United States.

Education campaign

The Breast Cancer Patient Education Act requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to plan and implement an education campaign to inform women of the availability and coverage of breast reconstruction, prosthesis and other options. The Secretary may develop information for distribution or may identify information prepared by other organisations. The educational materials would inform women that breast reconstruction is possible at the time of breast cancer surgery. Women can also choose to delay reconstruction until after other treatments, or they may choose not to have reconstruction and be informed of the availability of prosthesis or breast forms. Also, educational materials would inform breast cancer patients that US federal law mandates coverage of breast reconstruction, even if such reconstruction is delayed until after other treatments.

A number of US states have enacted laws requiring that women receive information about their breast cancer treatment and reconstructive options. The ‘Breast Cancer Patient Education Act’ seeks to inform and empower women to make decisions that best meet their personal needs.