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Drive-Through Mastectomies Threaten Patients' Lives

Says Dr. Marisa Weiss, breast oncologist and BREASTCANCER.ORG founder, in open letter to Congress today about 'Breast Cancer Patient Protection ACT,' H.R. 758

WASHINGTON, May 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "Mandatory drive-through mastectomies is an unconscionable practice that can endanger patients' recovery and lead to unnecessary complications," says Dr. Marisa Weiss, a leading breast oncologist and Founder and President of Breastcancer.org, in an open letter to Congress today as the "Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act," H.R. 758, is discussed in a House subcommittee hearing. Sixty-five percent of the 125,000 patients undergoing mastectomies each year in the United States are sent home within 24 hours -- a potentially dangerous situation for patients.

The letter, in support of the bill sponsored by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, follows:

Dear Representative DeLauro:

I am compelled to write this letter on behalf of my constituency: the
thousands of women who trust me with their lives as their personal doctor,
and the eight million women who trust Breastcancer.org for the best
medical information about breast cancer. As an oncologist -- and as
President and Founder of Breastcancer.org -- I have a unique perspective
on the needs of these brave women.

When a woman has a mastectomy, her life is on the line. And so are her
relationships with all of those she supports ... and those who care for
her. The impact is enormous and the stakes are extremely high.

Therefore, the decision about the length of needed in-hospital recovery
time following breast surgery must be made within the sacred relationship
between a woman and her doctor. Not reduced to a business decision that
overrides a doctor's best judgment and the patient's best interest.

Breast cancer is a serious condition that requires serious -- and
sensitive -- attention to the physical and emotional needs of each

As someone who has treated thousands of women, I know that the care of these women at this most vulnerable and high-risk time must be
individualized. There is no "one size fits all" solution. To suggest
otherwise demeans the challenge these women face in their fight against
breast cancer.

When insurers set themselves up as the "hospital police," short-cutting
the in-hospital recovery process solely for economic reasons-and in
disregard for best medical practice-legislation must be enacted to protect
American lives.

This same problem has already been addressed with baby deliveries. Women who have mastectomies certainly deserve the same respect.

I thank you for your initiative in championing this life-saving Bill, and
urge Congress to take proactive steps to eliminate this misguided

Marisa C. Weiss, M.D.


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