NOTE: All in-article links open in a new tab.

Breast Cancer Awareness - Did You Know?

Published on 

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Did You Know?

Chances are you; a family member, close friend or acquaintance has been impacted by breast cancer. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. According to a CDC (link), each year:

  • About 264,000 women in the United States get breast cancer and 42,000 women die from the disease,
  • Men can also get breast cancer, but it is not common. About one out of every one hundred breast cancers diagnoses in the United States is found in a man, and
  • While most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older, breast cancer also affects younger women.

Why Should You Care?

Even though family history increases the risk of breast cancer, most women diagnosed with breast cancer have no known family history of the disease. Early detection allows for a higher chance of cure. Mammography is used to detect breast cancer and is one of many Preventative Services covered by Medicare.

A related RealTime Medicare (RTMD) infographic, in this week’s newsletter, highlights the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the volume of Medicare Fee-for-Service beneficiaries undergoing screening mammography in RTMD’s footprint.

NCD 220.4 Mammograms

The CMS National Coverage Determination (NCD) 220.4 Mammograms (link) distinguishes the difference between diagnostic and screening mammography.

Diagnostic Mammography

A radiologic procedure furnished to a man or woman with signs and symptoms of breast disease, or a personal history of breast cancer, or a personal history of biopsy - proven benign breast disease and includes a physician's interpretation of the results of the procedure. CMS covers this service if ordered by a Doctor of Medicine or Osteopathy in addition to the following conditions:

  • A patient has distinct signs and symptoms for which a mammogram is indicated,
  • A patient has a history of breast cancer, or
  • A patient is asymptomatic but, based on the patient’s history and other factors the physician considers significant, the physician’s judgment is that a mammogram is appropriate.
Screening Mammography

A radiologic procedure furnished to a woman without signs or symptoms of breast disease, for the purpose of early detection of breast cancer, and includes a physician’s interpretation of the results of the procedure. A screening mammography has limitations as it must be, at a minimum a two-view exposure (cranio-caudal and a medial lateral oblique view) of each breast. Routine screening includes:

  • Asymptomatic women 50 years and older, and
  • Asymptomatic women 40 years and older whose mothers or sisters have had the disease, is considered medically appropriate, but would not be covered for Medicare purposes.

Guidance for coding and billing for screening mammography is available in the MLN Educational Tool: Medicare Preventive Services (link).

What Can I Do?

Know Ways to Lower Your Risk for Breast Cancer

The CDC details thing you can do to help lower your risk of breast cancer including:

  • Keep a health weight and exercise regularly,
  • Choose not to drink alcohol, or dink alcohol in moderation,
  • If you are taking hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills, ask your doctor about the risks, and
  • Breastfeed your children, if possible.

Know the Warning Signs of Breast Cancer

While there are different symptoms of breast cancer, and some people have no symptoms at all, symptoms can include:

  • Any change in the size or shape of the breast,
  • Pain in any area of the breast,
  • Nipple discharge other than breast milk (including blood),
  • A new lump in the breast or underarm, thickening or swelling or part of the breast,
  • Irritation or dimpling of the breast,
  • Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area of the breast.

Be Your Own Patient Advocate

If you have any signs or symptoms that worry you, follow-up with a health care provider as soon as possible.

Talk to your health care provider about when and how often to get a screening mammogram. If you are worried about the cost, the CDC’s National Breast Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) (link) provides breast and cervical cancer screenings and diagnostic services to women who have low incomes and are uninsured or underinsured.

Article Author: Beth Cobb, RN, BSN, ACM, CCDS
Beth Cobb, RN, BSN, ACM, CCDS, is the Manager of Clinical Analytics at Medical Management Plus, Inc. Beth has over twenty-five years of experience in healthcare including eleven years in Case Management at a large multi-facility health system. In her current position, Beth is a principle writer for MMP’s Wednesday@One weekly e-newsletter, an active member of our HIPAA Compliance Committee, MMP’s Education Department Program Director and co-developer of MMP’s proprietary Compliance Protection Assessment Tool.

This material was compiled to share information.  MMP, Inc. is not offering legal advice. Every reasonable effort has been taken to ensure the information is accurate and useful.