Patients with breast cancer will now be eligible to claim Medicare rebates for MRI scans for the first time starting this week.
Cabrini patients have already taken advantage of these rebates, which have reduced their out-of-pocket costs. Medicare rebates will be available for MRI scans for the diagnosis of breast cancer in patients where other imaging was inconclusive and a biopsy has not been possible as well as for pre-surgical planning for patients diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, where there is discrepancy between clinical assessment and conventional imaging assessment.
Cabrini Radiologist Dr Bronwen Slater said this would significantly reduce costs for patients needing an MRI or PET scan.
“With breast cancer, you can have significant out-of-pocket costs, particularly for scans, so this will reduce that financial burden for patients,” Dr Slater said. “Previously patients had out-of-pocket costs of $600 for MRI and $870 for PET scans, which is now covered by the rebate. This is a big saving for those patients.”
In order to receive the rebate, patients must be referred by a treating specialist or surgeon.
Dr Slater said the rebates would make the process more streamlined for patients and would provide treating surgeons with the most accurate information.
“MRI is the one of the most expensive but most valuable tools we have available to treat patients with breast cancer,” Dr Slater said. “MRI allows us to make a more accurate diagnosis following other screening tests, such as mammograms and ultrasounds, which can be inconclusive in their findings. MRI also provides surgeons with a better overview of a patient’s tumour and may prevent patients having to have multiple surgeries, if the entire tumour can be removed the first time around.”
Dr Slater said the rebates would make these scans more accessible for patients.
“There are patients who, in the past, did not have an MRI because of the extra cost. These changes make MRI accessible to more patients who need it.”
Cabrini breast cancer patients are already receiving the rebates, which came into effect on 1 November.
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