2011.07.19 Ovarian Cancer Advocates Praise Recommendation to Cover Birth Control as Preventive Medicine

Washington, DC—Today the Institute of Medicine recommended that birth control be classified as a preventive service for women. If the Department of Health and Human Services adopts these recommendations, health insurers will be required to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives beginning in 2014. Karen Orloff Kaplan, CEO of Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, praised the decision for its impact on women with ovarian cancer.

“From my perspective, there is no question that birth control is preventive medicine,” says Dr. Kaplan. “Although the Institute of Medicine’s recommendation did not address ovarian cancer specifically, the benefit of oral contraceptives for women with ovarian cancer is significant. I have seen far too many women die from ovarian cancer. The research is clear: oral contraceptives can reduce a woman’s risk of developing this disease by as much 50 percent. I am grateful the Institute of Medicine recommended that this benefit be available to all women through their health insurance.”

In comments to the Institute of Medicine, the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance urged coverage for two services known to reduce women’s risk of ovarian cancer: oral contraceptives and removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes (known as prophylactic or risk-reducing bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy). “While we applaud the decision to include contraception as a preventive health service, we are disappointed that removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes will not be covered for women at increased risk of ovarian cancer,” says Dr. Kaplan. “These are the only two methods that we know can reduce a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer. Our hope is that greater access to preventive methods could reduce the number of women who die from the disease.”

Ovarian cancer is the deadliest gynecologic cancer, and the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths for women. Approximately 21,000 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011, and around 15,000 women will die from the disease. There is no reliable early detection or screening test for ovarian cancer. More information ovarian cancer, including associated risk factors, is available on the Alliance’s website.

The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance is the foremost advocate for women with ovarian cancer in the United States. To advance the interests of women with ovarian cancer, the organization advocates at a national level for increases in research funding for the development of an early detection test, improved health care practices, and life-saving treatment protocols. The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance educates health care professionals and raises public awareness of the risks, signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer. The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance is a 501 (c) (3) organization established in 1997.

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For more information, or to schedule an interview, please contact Amanda Davis at adavis@ovariancancer.org or (202)331-1332.