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In order to highlight the importance of breast awareness, education and research, October is observed as “National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM)” each year in the United States. The annual health campaign is a strong international platform to increase awareness about breast cancer and help raise funds for research so as to know its causes and how to prevent it (including early diagnosis, treatment and cure). Regarded as the second most common type of cancer among American women, breast cancer occurs when some breast cells begin to grow abnormally and accumulate, (forming a lump or mass) that may spread through your breast to your lymph nodes or to other parts of your body. As per recommendations from the American Cancer Society, it is imperative for women to undergo breast cancer screening tests at an early age (right from their early 50s or sooner) as these tests help to detect the symptoms of the disease early. Undergoing early screening means that the disease can be more effectively treated before it spreads to other areas of the body. Treatment modalities for this condition involve preventive medications, surgery along with chemotherapy, hormone therapy or radiation. Oncologists and other specialists besides providing different treatment modalities must also ensure that medical coding for this condition is done appropriately on the medical claims. As even minor coding mistakes may result in erratic information and claim denials, opting for billing services from an established medical billing and coding company would ensure correct reimbursement.

According to reports from BreastCancer.Org, about 1 in 8 American women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. In 2019, an estimated 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the United States, along with 62,930 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer. It is estimated that nearly half of all women aged 40 years and above have dense breasts. There are several risk factors associated with the condition which include – female, age, personal/family history of breast cancer, exposure to radiation, obesity, post-menopausal hormone therapy and more. The month-long campaign aims to make as many people as possible involved in raising awareness and funds to help support life-saving research and life-changing support.

In most cases, early stage breast cancer may not cause any specific symptoms. As the disease progresses, some symptoms tend to appear which include – change in the size or shape of the breast, pain in any area of the breast, nipple discharge other than breast milk (including blood), a new lump in the breast or underarm and redness or pitting of the skin over your breast. To make an accurate diagnosis of the symptoms, oncologists conduct a physical examination along with a complete breast exam. Several diagnostic imaging tests like mammogram, breast ultrasound and biopsy (removing a sample of breast cells for testing) may be conducted to make a correct diagnosis of the condition.

Medicare Part (B) offers coverage for screening mammogram once in every 12 months (11 full months must have passed since the last screening) and diagnostic mammogram (when medically necessary) for women aged 40 years and older. Women aged 35-39 years can get screened for baseline mammogram as well. In addition, Medicare provides coverage for a clinical breast exam (CBE) once every 24 months for women at average risk of breast cancer. Oncologists, while documenting the condition must include the diagnosis, screening tests and other procedures using the correct medical codes. Medical billing and coding services offered by experienced providers can help physicians use the correct codes for their medical billing purposes.

ICD-10 Codes

  • C50 – Malignant neoplasm of breast
  • C50.0 – Malignant neoplasm of nipple and areola
  • C50.1 – Malignant neoplasm of central portion of breast
  • C50.2 – Malignant neoplasm of upper-inner quadrant of breast
  • C50.3 – Malignant neoplasm of lower-inner quadrant of breast
  • C50.4 – Malignant neoplasm of upper-outer quadrant of breast
  • C50.5 – Malignant neoplasm of lower-outer quadrant of breast
  • C50.6 – Malignant neoplasm of axillary tail of breast
  • C50.8 – Malignant neoplasm of overlapping sites of breast
  • C50.9 – Malignant neoplasm of breast of unspecified site

Breast cancer awareness month was first observed in the year 1985 as a partnership between the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical division of Imperial Chemical Industries (maker of several anti-breast cancer drugs). The campaign objective emphasized the need for women to undergo mammography screenings at least once in 2 years to identify or detect any specific abnormalities or tumors in the breast tissue.

Over the years, the focus of the annual campaign widened with a number of organizations based in the United States and other countries supporting this global health campaign. With the founding of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation in 1993, the pink ribbon was chosen as the official symbol for this campaign. A wide range of activities comprising educational programs, printing and distributing informational pamphlets and posters, and fund-raising activities such as walks, runs, auctions, concerts, and other charity events are held throughout the month of October. Individuals/or women survivors and organizations can actively take part in the event and spread the word about breast cancer detection by –

  • Wearing a pink ribbon during October or year-round
  • Distributing materials or pamphlets about breast cancer screening at local health fairs
  • Sharing the story of how you or your loved ones have been affected by breast cancer via social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn
  • Raising funds for vital breast cancer research
  • Partnering with local women’s organizations, community groups, and senior centers to provide women aged 40 and older with important information on breast cancer screening.

Observe Breast Cancer Awareness Month This October! Join in the cause to help change the future of women living with breast cancer.