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New York Requires Dense Breast Notification

July 24, 2012
Written by: , Filed in: Breast Imaging
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Women in New York who have a mammogram will now be notified if the exam shows that they have dense breast tissue.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law on Monday. In a statement, Cuomo said:

Early detection can save lives, and this new law will give women who may be at a higher risk for breast cancer the information they need to consult with their physician about follow-up screening and other preventive measures.

The new law requires that, if a mammogram reveals a patient has dense breast tissue, the mammography provider must include the following statement in the summary report provided to the patient:

“Your mammogram shows that your breast tissue is dense. Dense breast tissue is very common and is not abnormal. However, dense breast tissue can make it harder to find cancer on a mammogram and may also be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. This information about the result of your mammogram is given to you to raise your awareness. Use this information to talk to your doctor about your own risks for breast cancer. At that time, ask your doctor if more screening tests might be useful, based on your risk. A copy of your results was sent to your physician.”

The bill faced no organized opposition during legislative debate. Some individual doctors have expressed doubts about such notifications, saying they cause unnecessary anxiety.

Last fall, California Governor Jerry Brown cited similar concerns when he vetoed a similar bill passed by the California Legislature; see our story about it here. The California Radiological Society and the California Medical Association opposed the bill, citing the “unnecessary anxiety” issue among other reservations.

In early 2009, Connecticut became the first state to require notification of mammography patients with dense breasts. A study published online last month in Radiology examined the experiences of women in Connecticut who, after the law was passed, were notified that they had dense breasts. The study found that secondary screening with ultrasound did detect some additional cancers but had a high rate of false positives.

Texas and Virginia also have dense breast notification laws.

Related seminar: UCSF Breast Imaging and Digital Mammography (all-new release; free domestic shipping for a limited time)

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