Health

New recommendations for breast cancer screenings in part because of local doctor, patients

It can mean the difference between taking chemotherapy or just a pill.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) -- There are some new recommendations on breast cancer screenings, and a local doctor and patients are part of the reason why.

The American Society of Breast Surgeons now recommends everyone diagnosed with breast cancer get genetic testing.

Dr. Antonio Ruiz, Director of the Breast Center at Chesapeake Regional Medical Center, told 10 On Your Side that the study of 1,000 women found half of breast cancer patients with genetic mutations are getting missed. 

That's because under current guidelines from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, the patients don't qualify for the test.

"The NCCN guidelines have been around for 20 years, and they were created in an era when genetic testing cost anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 per patient," Dr. Ruiz told WAVY.com  

Now, he says it costs a mere fraction of that, about $250.

Knowing about those mutations is vital for doctors to determine the best treatments. It can mean the difference between taking chemotherapy or just a pill. "If we don't identify those patients they may not get the right treatment," Dr. Ruiz said.

In the meantime, while the American Society of Breast Surgeons now recommends genetic testing for all breast cancer patients, most insurance still won't cover it until the NCCN recommends it.

Dr. Ruiz says the surgeons are working on that.


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