Cancer Bill Stirs Controversy After Doctor Associated With Spectrum Speaks Out Against It

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (May 8, 2014)– Senate testimony by a doctor associated with Spectrum Health Group left a breast cancer awareness group in outrage Thursday.

They say they were shocked to watch the medical professional speak out against a new bill that would require doctors to give women more information about how dense breasts can impact cancer detection.

“This issue for me is personal, because my breast cancer was missed over 7 years of annual mammograms,” said Teresa Hendricks-Pitsch, a breast cancer survivor and member of the group, Breast Density Matters.

Armed with signs, Pitsch marched with supporters of the “catch cancer early bill’ in Lansing.

They were alerting lawmakers that the Breast Density Matters group is watching.

Pitsch also testified that doctors should be required to inform women that they have dense breasts, something that can hide cancer from a mammogram.

She said because nobody told her of the dangers, a tumor went undetected for years.

“I had the most advanced mammograms and yet you couldn`t see the tumor. I found out myself by my own examination. Then it was confirmed and it was very obvious once I had an MRI. By the time we found it it had been growing, my surgeon said, for approximately 7 years,” said Pitsch.

Pitsch was outraged during testimony at a hearing on the bill in Lansing when she said Dr. Tammy Kreuzer took the podium.

“She testified as to reasons why she would not want this bill to become law,” said Pitsch.

Spectrum’s Youtube channel shows Kreuzer talking about breast cancer, a website states that she is, “currently the section Chief and Medical Director of Breast MRI for Advanced Radiology Services and Spectrum Health.”

“Everybody was left with the impression that Spectrum Health testified against the legislation,” said Pitsch.

She said Krueser testified that the bill is unnecessary because in every report that gets sent, it has the breast density report on it.

Krueser also reportedly said another reason the bill should not be put into law is because there is no uniform decision on what the next screening test should be.

Her other objections centered around what women with dense breasts should do after a mammogram.

Pitsch said another radiologist testified that whether catching cancer early has a better outcome is controversial.

“There were some pretty ridiculous things,” said Pitsch. “The radiologist that testified with Dr. Kreuzer, MD said that additional screenigng may not be the best way to treat density or decide that density is an issue with regard to cancer, but instead, if a woman exercised right and ate right and didn`t drink and maybe nursed a baby, maybe perhaps that would fare better for her.”

Pitsch said, “Those of us who don`t have children or don`t have a problem being overweight, or don`t have a problem not exercising, were appalled to suggest we caused our own cancer by not nursing a baby.”

Spectrum spokesman Bruce Rossman said Kreuzer is not employed by Spectrum Health, but she is a medical director who practices radiology there.

He also released this statement:

“We have not taken a position on the bill discussed today.  We recommend contacting the Michigan Hospital Association and other health care associations who have taken a position for information regarding the bill’s potential impact on hospitals in our state.”

Meanwhile, the breast density matters group vows to fight on.

“All I needed was the information at the right time in order to protect myself, and I wanted to make sure the other 50% of women that have dense breast tissue have this information because right now we know that they are not getting it,” said Pitsch.

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