This blog is the most recent in a series helping members of the Coast Guard family understand how to use their TRICARE benefits. The blog series will continue every Monday, right here on Coast Guard All Hands.
Written by Cmdr. Paul Fawcett
Early detection of breast cancer is critical to maintaining your health. Once detected, getting the proper treatment is essential to restoring your health in the best manner possible. TRICARE offers a range of services to help you detect this disease and treat it if you have it.
Breast Cancer Detection
TRICARE pays for annual mammograms for all women over 40, and it also covers this test for women age 30 and older who have a 15% or greater lifetime risk of breast cancer based on family history or who have certain risk factors.
- You can receive an annual Breast Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) beginning at age 30 if you have a 20% or greater risk of breast cancer based on certain risk factors.
- Clinical breast exams are also covered under the health promotion and disease prevention exam.
- Breast exams may also be covered as part of an annual well-woman exam, which are covered annually for women under age 65.
- Breast cancer screenings are not limited to women; men may also receive them if they are medically necessary and appropriate.
Breast Cancer Treatment
In the event that you need breast cancer treatment, TRICARE covers a range of care including radiation therapy, and chemo therapy. TRICARE also covers certain cancer clinical trials sponsored by the National Cancer Institute. You must be recommended by your doctor for participation and they will coordinate your entry into this program.
TRICARE will pay for mastectomies if you are at increased risk of developing breast cancer or if you are already diagnosed with breast cancer. In the event that a mastectomy is performed, TRICARE will also cover post surgical reconstruction of the breast to restore symmetry and to treat complications following reconstruction.
In the event that breast reconstruction is not selected, or it has failed, mastectomy bras are a covered TRICARE benefit. You are authorized two initial issue bras and two replacement devices per calendar year. Customized breast prostheses are also authorized benefits if you elect not to receive reconstructive surgery.
The key to combating breast cancer is early detection and treatment. You should discuss detection and treatment with your primary care manager during your regularly scheduled wellness exams as part of your TRICARE benefit.
For more questions, call or email the Coast Guard Health Benefits Assistance Line for help 1-800-9-HBA-HBA or CGHBA@uscg.mil.