| Thu, Oct 04, 2012 @ 09:00 AM

Medicare Memo: Mammograms Help Save Lives

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

womens breast cancer awareness medicare mammogram coverageOctober is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s a good time to think about these cancer facts from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) web site:

  • Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in women.
  • Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women. (Non-melanoma skin cancer is the most common.)
  • About 30% of deaths from breast cancer in women over age 50 are preventable.

The CDC reports that mammograms combined with clinical breast exams help reduce breast cancer deaths. A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast. A clinical breast exam is a manual check by a doctor or nurse. They check for lumps or changes in the breast.

Regular mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early. Early breast cancer treatment is very effective. The five-year survival rate reported by the CDC is about 90%. Researchers use five years as a benchmark. Most women go on to live many more years.

Medicare Part B Covers Mammograms

You can get a mammogram and other preventive services under Medicare Part B. Part B also covers doctor visits and outpatient care.

Women age 40 or older with Medicare can get a screening mammogram once every 12 months. Women age 35-39 with Medicare can get one baseline mammogram. You pay nothing for the test if the doctor accepts Medicare assignment.

Getting Older Increases Breast Cancer Risk

Age is the biggest risk factor for breast cancer. Three to four women out of every 100 who are 60 years old today will get breast cancer by the age of 70.*

Taking steps to prevent breast cancer is important—even more so as we age. Here’s what you can do:

  • Get screened for breast cancer regularly.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Get and stay physically active.
  • Eat a healthful diet.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink.

Be sure to talk with your doctor about your breast cancer risk. You may want to take further preventive steps if you have a mother, sister or daughter with breast cancer. In addition, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can increase breast cancer risk. Ask your doctor about the risks and benefits of HRT to find out if it’s right for you.

For more information, contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048. If you have questions about Medicare Made Clear, call 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.

*SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975–2007, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD


Medicare Part B Coverage: Learn more about Medicare Part B from Medicare Made Clear.

Mammograms Save Lives: Send an e-greeting card to remind someone you love to get a mammogram, on CDC.gov.

Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion: Get information and tools to help you eat a healthful diet on the USDA web site.

Y0066_120918_095431 CMS Accepted