Breast Cancer Early Detection a Top Priority For U.S. Rep.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., is pushing to pass legislation that would enhance women’s access to possibly life-saving mammograms.

Wasserman Schultz spoke at an event in Hollywood on Tuesday in which she discussed the Protecting Access to Life-Saving Screenings Act, or PALS Act, and her own battle with breast cancer, as she was diagnosed at the age of 41.

“I know that early detection saves lives and if you cut out a decade between when women are 40 and 50 years and they don’t begin screening starting at 40 then you know that we’re going to lose thousands and thousands more women than we would if they had access to that screening beginning at 40,” the congresswoman said. “In May, I introduced the Protecting Access to Life-Saving Screenings Act because we have a continuing controversy raging around when is the appropriate time for women to begin getting mammograms and breast cancer screenings.”

If Wasserman Schultz’s proposal passes, it would postpone the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’s recommendation that limits women’s access to mammograms for those under the age of 50. The act would give more women the tools to make their own decisions about breast health with access to preventative care.

One woman whose life was likely saved due to early detection hopes the proposal passes.

Bonnie Kaufman said as cancer is affecting younger people, they need to have the ability to receive a diagnosis early in order to have a better chance.

“When I was 44, I woke up one morning coughing and I grabbed my chest and I felt something … and I went to the doctor and he sent me right away for a mammogram and it turned out to be a very rapid growing tumor,” Kaufman said. “They actually told me if I hadn’t come in at that point, if I had waited a week or two weeks, or three weeks, it could have been a much worse diagnosis.”