Congressman Leonard Lance (NJ-07) today announced he has reintroduced the "Breast Cancer Patient Education Act,' H.R. 1984. Lance's bill would help educate women about breast reconstruction and care options following cancer treatments.
During an event at The Steeplechcase Cancer Center, Lance was joined by New Jersey breast cancer survivors and patients, officials with Somerset Medical Center and representatives from Susan G. Komen, North Jersey affiliate to discuss the legislation.
"The Breast Cancer Patient Education Act seeks to help women cope with breast cancer and become fully aware of their options and gain more control over their health care decisions at a time when a sense of control is lost," Congressman Leonard Lance said at the event with cancer advocates. "While we do not know the cause or cure for cancer, we do know that cancer awareness and education is the best protection."
"We applaud Congressman Lance for continuing to serve as a strong advocate in Washington for the advancement of cancer care," said Maureen Schneider, senior vice president of clinical program development and chief nursing officer at Somerset Medical Center. "Education is an important part of a patient's cancer journey. Breast cancer patients need to be aware of all of their options, including reconstructive surgery, so that they can make informed decisions about their care."
"While the decision to undergo breast reconstruction surgery following a mastectomy is a personal decision, it is one that all women should have the option to make for themselves," said Jennifer Griola the Executive Director of Susan G. Komen North Jersey. "Sadly, too few women are fully informed of their options pre-mastectomy. The Breast Cancer Patient Education Act aims to target educational efforts to women of racial and ethnic minority status, this supports and complements the work we are doing in the community. We thank Congressman Lance for his attention to the issue of breast reconstruction education."
"Breast cancer patients regardless of race yearn to regain a "normal" life after treatment," said Dora Arias, breast cancer survivor and the founder and executive director of Curémonos, an organization dedicated to helping medically underserved women in Union County. "Losing a breast and wanting reconstruction, it is not about vanity, but rather about rebuilding your life on a physical, emotional and psychological level. Through my work with Curémonos, I have seen the devastating effects of breast cancer on women who lost their breast and who did not get reconstruction. Every woman wants and deserves to regain a normal life after cancer treatment, but most are never even told what their breast reconstruction options are. It is unfortunate that we need a law to protect women from becoming victims a second time around, however that is the reality. The Breast Cancer Patient Education Act is the only way to ensure this does not keep happening. Women must be told their options."
Lance's noted that his bipartisan "Breast Cancer Patient Education Act,' H.R. 1984, would come at no cost to the taxpayer. Lance's bill would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to plan and implement an education campaign to inform breast cancer patients about their options prior to surgery.
Surprisingly, studies conducted through the University of Michigan and the Dana Farber Institute report that up to 70% of women eligible for breast reconstruction following cancer treatment are not fully informed of their reconstruction and care options by their general surgeon. Studies also indicate minority women are significantly less likely to receive information about their options, suggesting a substantial unmet need for information, especially among racial and ethnic minority groups, regarding reconstruction options and required coverage.
H.R. 1984 has been endorsed by the Susan G. Komen for the Cure North Jersey and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.