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Michigan Ranked 28th in US on Provision of Care to Ovarian Cancer Patients

June 30, 2012

The study reports that Michigan law helps women access quality care for ovarian cancer by requiring coverage of routine costs of care for those enrolled in clinical trials and off-label use of prescription drugs. There is also a fair amount of education and awareness efforts in the state, including the newly established Partner Member, MIOCA and participation in the Survivors Teaching Students® program. Ovarian cancer affects one in 71 women in the United States; approximately 22,280 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year, including an estimated 820 women in Michigan. With no early detection test and a high mortality rate, it is essential that women have access to the care they need to diagnose and treat ovarian cancer. As this new report shows, where a woman lives can have a dramatic effect on her access to health care and support services related to her disease. “Every state has room for improvement when it comes to women with ovarian cancer,” notes Cara Tenenbaum, Vice President for Policy and External Affairs at the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. “The good news is that we have some programs that work—from laws ensuring coverage of second opinions to local groups providing support services and education around ovarian cancer,” Pam Dahlmann, MIOCA President, commented. “However, our legislature could further help ovarian cancer patients by passing laws that ensure coverage for medically appropriate diagnostic testing and by strengthening the our genetic discrimination laws.” Ovarian Cancer: A Call for State Action examined laws, policies and programs in four broad categories.  Access to Care—Optimal care for women who are suspected of having ovarian cancer includes prompt diagnosis, surgery performed by a gynecologic oncologist and access to the full range of care along the continuum of their disease. This encompasses monitoring high-risk women and those in remission, treating those with active disease, providing support services at all points and assisting with end-of-life issues.  Education—Educating women and providers about the symptoms and risk factors of this disease would improve the odds that a woman would seek appropriate medical care and be diagnosed promptly.  Quality of Life—Support services that help a woman cope with her diagnosis and treatment are an essential component of quality care for ovarian cancer. In addition to patients, family members and caregivers often need emotional, financial and/or medical help.  Research—Despite improvements in diagnosing and treating ovarian cancer, death rates have not changed significantly in the more than 40 years since the War on Cancer was declared. Research is essential to find better tools for diagnosing and treating this disease. An advisory committee composed of experts in policy, women’s health and oncology determined the criteria and their relative weights in the scoring system. States were ranked based on their overall score. Also included in the report are recommendations for advocates and legislators, as well as sample legislation addressing many of the variables used to evaluate states’ provision of care to women with ovarian cancer. “Our goal is to start a conversation about how policies and programs within a state affect ovarian cancer patients,” according to Cara Tenenbaum, Vice President for Policy and External Affairs at the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance “We hope this report will stimulate advocates and legislators in Michigan to improve their environment for anyone struggling with a serious illness—not just women with ovarian cancer. The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance and our national network of supporters stand ready to assist anyone who wants to implement the policies and programs we recommend in this report.” Ovarian Cancer: A Call for State Action is available at ovariancancer.org/report-card. 

The study reports that Michigan law helps women access quality care for ovarian cancer by requiring coverage of routine costs of care for those enrolled in clinical trials and off-label use of prescription drugs. There is also a fair amount of education and awareness efforts in the state, including the newly established Partner Member, MIOCA and participation in the Survivors Teaching Students® program. Ovarian cancer affects one in 71 women in the United States; approximately 22,280 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year, including an estimated 820 women in Michigan. With no early detection test and a high mortality rate, it is essential that women have access to the care they need to diagnose and treat ovarian cancer. As this new report shows, where a woman lives can have a dramatic effect on her access to health care and support services related to her disease. “Every state has room for improvement when it comes to women with ovarian cancer,” notes Cara Tenenbaum, Vice President for Policy and External Affairs at the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. “The good news is that we have some programs that work—from laws ensuring coverage of second opinions to local groups providing support services and education around ovarian cancer,” Pam Dahlmann, MIOCA President, commented. “However, our legislature could further help ovarian cancer patients by passing laws that ensure coverage for medically appropriate diagnostic testing and by strengthening the our genetic discrimination laws.” Ovarian Cancer: A Call for State Action examined laws, policies and programs in four broad categories.  Access to Care—Optimal care for women who are suspected of having ovarian cancer includes prompt diagnosis, surgery performed by a gynecologic oncologist and access to the full range of care along the continuum of their disease. This encompasses monitoring high-risk women and those in remission, treating those with active disease, providing support services at all points and assisting with end-of-life issues.  Education—Educating women and providers about the symptoms and risk factors of this disease would improve the odds that a woman would seek appropriate medical care and be diagnosed promptly.  Quality of Life—Support services that help a woman cope with her diagnosis and treatment are an essential component of quality care for ovarian cancer. In addition to patients, family members and caregivers often need emotional, financial and/or medical help.  Research—Despite improvements in diagnosing and treating ovarian cancer, death rates have not changed significantly in the more than 40 years since the War on Cancer was declared. Research is essential to find better tools for diagnosing and treating this disease. An advisory committee composed of experts in policy, women’s health and oncology determined the criteria and their relative weights in the scoring system. States were ranked based on their overall score. Also included in the report are recommendations for advocates and legislators, as well as sample legislation addressing many of the variables used to evaluate states’ provision of care to women with ovarian cancer. “Our goal is to start a conversation about how policies and programs within a state affect ovarian cancer patients,” according to Cara Tenenbaum, Vice President for Policy and External Affairs at the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance “We hope this report will stimulate advocates and legislators in Michigan to improve their environment for anyone struggling with a serious illness—not just women with ovarian cancer. The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance and our national network of supporters stand ready to assist anyone who wants to implement the policies and programs we recommend in this report.” Ovarian Cancer: A Call for State Action is available at ovariancancer.org/report-card. 

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