Women veterans, troops can get advanced breast cancer screenings starting this month

Abbie Bennett
May 12, 2020 - 11:30 am
BreastCancer

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera

Women veterans and service members with Tricare will now have access to advanced breast cancer screenings, starting this month.

The Pentagon recently updated its policy, allowing women with Tricare to get breast cancer screenings using the latest technology covered by the military insurer. 

In November last year, Air Force veterans Sens. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., and Chrissy Houlahan, D-Penn.,  introduced the Better and Robust Act, requiring the Department of Defense to cover a new breast cancer technology, Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (DBT).

Thomas McCaffery, assistant secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, responded to McSally in a letter announcing that in 2020, Tricare would cover DBT. 

Tricare was the only national payer not covering preventative DBT screenings at the time, McSally said in a news release Tuesday. 

DBT is an imaging tool that creates three-dimensional visuals of breast tissue using X-rays and reduces the need for biopsies. 

Now, women vets or service members 30 and older will be covered for annual DBT screenings beginning May 29. Those that got the screenings from Jan. 1 until May 29 may be eligible for reimbursement, according to the Defense Department's new policy. 

“This is a major victory for our female service members and veterans covered under TRICARE,” McSally said in a statement. “Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women, but when detected early the overall chances of survival increase dramatically. Women in our Armed Forces now have access to the best preventative breast cancer screenings. I’m glad the Defense Department heard our repeated calls for change and implemented this commonsense policy.”

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Kaylah Jackson contributed to this report.

Are you a service member or veteran, family member or VA employee affected by the coronavirus? Contact Abbie Bennett: abbie@connectingvets.com or @AbbieRBennett. For secure communications, email abbierbennett@protonmail.com