BOSTON (CBS) — The medical advisor to the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition wants to meet with the head of Cigna over what he says is a bad decision the provider is making.
Dr. Michael Misialek is a pathologist at Newton-Wellesley Hospital and a professor of pathology at Tufts University. He is unhappy with the insurance company’s recent decision to stop covering 3D mammograms, a method that he praises.
“This does pick up more cancers, it saves women’s lives, and it reduces patient anxiety by the decreased callback rate,” Misialek told WBZ NewsRadio 1030. “With that extra third dimension, we’re able to see densities and abnormalities that aren’t clarified well on the two-dimensional mammogram.”
In their Medical Coverage Policy, updated November 15, Cigna said they would no longer be covering 3D mammograms, dropping coverage for the process in mid-February.
“Cigna does not cover digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) (i.e., three-dimensional [3D]) for screening either as standalone testing or as an adjunct to screening mammography because it is considered experimental, investigational or unproven,” the document states.
Misialek does not agree, saying it’s not considered experimental at all, rather, that it’s in pretty widespread use across the country.
“We offer 3D mammography routinely to all patients when they come in for their screening mammograms, and most all of the Boston-area hospitals do the same, so it is very common,” said Misialek. “It is becoming standard of care.”
Misialek said studies show about a 40-percent greater pickup rate for small cancers when using the technology. He said data gathered at Newton-Wellesley Hospital shows doctors there are finding about twice as many small breast cancers because of 3D mammography.
The Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition received a statement from Cigna saying that the company would evaluate the data.
“We’re hopeful that if they do hear from patients, listeners urging them to reconsider, that they will do that,” said Misialek.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Diane Stern reports