On average close to 50% of women have dense breast tissue identified on mammography. Having dense breast tissue makes it more challenging to find breast cancer on a mammogram as the dense tissue is white and breast cancer can hide within this tissue. In addition, having dense breasts is considered an independent risk factor for breast cancer and raises the risk of that patient developing breast cancer. Although New York State has a law to inform all patients having a mammogram of their breast density since 2013, still, few women are aware that having dense breasts is a significant risk factor for breast cancer.
Thirty-eight states require that women receive written notification (Breast Cancer Notification Rule) about their breast density and potential breast cancer risk after a mammogram. The wording of breast density notification varies from state to state. However, many states do not currently have a requirement to notify patients of their breast density, cancer risk, or the importance of talking to a healthcare provider about their breast density.
Recently, Congress revealed the Breast Density and Mammography Reporting Act that directs the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue a national reporting standard requiring all mammography reports to include an assessment of breast density. The FDA recently announced a national reporting standard requiring mammogram reports to include breast density information, which will go into effect on September 10, 2024.
Under the new rules, women in every state will receive a written notice informing them of their breast density status. Patients will be told if they are DENSE or NOT DENSE and advised to speak with their health care provider about their results. Patients having a mammogram examination in every state will have information and education about their breast density. In addition, patients with dense breasts may be eligible for additional screening tools such as ultrasound and MRI. Elizabeth Wende Breast Care (EWBC) offers screening breast ultrasound for patients with dense breast tissue at all seven of our facilities. Breast MRI is offered in Brighton (our original office).
EWBC is proud to know those who have advocated for this change and remain committed to the early detection of breast cancer. (For more information: densebreast-info.org/)
Katie Couric used her diagnosis to advocate and strengthen breast cancer awareness, especially among those with dense breasts. A Federal bill was introduced in Congress with Katie Couric on December 12, 2022, called the “Find It Early Act,” which will require all insurance plans, including Medicare, to cover screening and diagnostic breast imaging with no out-of-pocket costs for women with dense breasts or at higher risk for breast cancer. Included are mammography, breast ultrasound, and breast MRI.
The overall goal of the Find It Early Act is to reduce the number of cancer-related deaths in the US by promoting early detection and prevention measures, improving access to screening and diagnostic tests, and increasing public awareness about the importance of early detection and prevention.
To find out more or to support the “Find It Early Act”: densebreast-info.org/legislative-information/find-it-early-act/