November 26, 2010

Travel tips for breast cancer survivors

My online friend Chemobabe posted a notice on Facebook from the Komen Foundation, warning breast cancer survivors on how to travel by air during the holidays.

If you’re a breast cancer survivor traveling by air during the holidays…

…you may be concerned about what to expect from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening guidelines at U.S. airports beginning this week.

TSA is now using full-body scanners at 68 U.S. airports that can detect surgical clips, prostheses and implants. If these devices are detected, breast cancer survivors may be subjected to a more thorough and personal secondary screening by TSA agents.

The secondary screening has been controversial: One breast cancer survivor says she was told to remove her prosthesis; another told us that she was in pain for days from pressure to her chemo port, and others say they felt invaded and distressed.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure® has written to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to offer Komen for the Cure’s expertise into the special issues around the nation’s 2.5 million breast cancer survivors. We’re not national security experts, of course. But we can do our part to ensure that survivors are treated with respect and dignity.

As we do so, here are some steps you can take as you head to the airport this holiday season:

• Komen is recommending that breast cancer survivors arrive earlier than usual at the airport, with ample time to go through the new secondary screening if necessary
• If you are concerned about going through the body scanner for any reason, you may request a private pat-down screening
• If you choose, or are selected for, a pat-down screening, you may request a private screening away from public areas
• You should advise the TSA agents of any chemotherapy ports or other medical devices.
• You should not be asked to remove your prosthetic device
• Most airlines strongly recommend that customers use carry-ons, rather than checked luggage, to carry medicines or prosthetic devices

Here is more information from TSA’s website that may be helpful as you plan your travel: 
We don’t at this point have reliable data on the potential impact of these new screening procedures on breast cancer survivors. We want to hear from our survivors about their experience at the airport – good or bad. Please send an e-mail to

Please know that we are watching this situation as it develops, and are more than happy to work with TSA to ensure that the issues of breast cancer survivors are heard.


  1. Sometimes I feel disgusted with these steps that the Government implements, Will help lot of people who are Cancer survivors.

  2. My cousin is effected by breast caner. I hope she will ok soon.