A mammogram in process. Courtesy CDC

As San Diego healthcare providers, we see the devastating impacts of women skipping their annual breast examinations and breast imaging.

Early and accurate detection and treatment of breast cancer is essential, In fact, the survival rate for women diagnosed early with localized breast cancer is 99%.  

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Barriers such as lack of health insurance, the skyrocketing cost of living, and pandemic ripple effects are preventing women from getting mammograms and supplemental breast imaging, which can delay breast cancer diagnoses and increase cancer mortality rates. 

We are calling for urgent action to enable more women in our community to access life-saving breast imaging and breast health education. 

Policymakers must pass Senate Bill 257, which aims to increase health insurance coverage of supplemental breast imaging so more women can afford these potentially lifesaving tests. This is particularly important for women with dense breasts, which includes almost half of women over 40.

For these women, breast cancer risk increases, and it is harder to see tumors during a mammogram.  So supplemental imaging can be a critical step in identifying cancers.  

We understand the vital role that awareness and education play in saving lives. It is critical for women and their doctors to engage in meaningful conversations about breast health and breast cancer risk.

These conversations can serve as a first line of defense and enable women to make informed decisions about their breast screening plans. For women seeking guidance on these discussions, educational materials on can be a valuable starting point. 

We are hosting community breast screening events in San Diego to help women, including those facing financial barriers, access important breast health education and breast imaging. We encourage other healthcare leaders in our community to host similar community health events. 

By working together as healthcare practitioners, policymakers and community leaders, we can find ways to ensure women have access to the life-saving breast care they need. 

Dr. Rakesh Patel is CEO of Neighborhood Healthcare. Kevin LaChapelle is CEO of San Diego American Indian Health Center.