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Tricare adds coverage for breast cancer MRI screenings

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AFRNS) -- Recognizing the importance of early detection, the Tricare Management Activity recently changed its policy, adding coverage for Magnetic Resonance Imaging screening for women at high risk of developing breast cancer.

The American Cancer Society has clear guidelines defining "high risk" which doctors can use to determine who qualifies for the coverage. If any qualified beneficiary receives this care in the near future and it is denied, they can resubmit their claim for reimbursement, said Tricare officials.

"An MRI is a clearly superior tool for screening the highest risk women for breast cancer," said Army Maj. Gen. Elder Granger, deputy director of TMA. "We want these women to have every chance to detect any cancer at the earliest possible stages."

Breast cancer is the third most common cancer among Tricare beneficiaries and the second most common cause of cancer death for women in the United States. An individual's level of risk depends on a number of factors including age, family history and race. Doctors can advise their patients of their individual risk factors, but even women of average or low risk should be vigilant, said the general.

"The availability of MRI screenings does not reduce the importance of regular examinations," General Granger stressed. "All women over 39 years old need to get those annual mammograms. The key to dealing with cancer is early detection."

Anyone who meets the criteria for a breast MRI will be covered by Tricare, retroactive to March 1. If any qualified beneficiaries received this care on or after March 1 and it was denied, they can resubmit their claim for reimbursement. .