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PA Is 13th State To Require Breast Density Info

October 29, 2013
Written by: , Filed in: Breast Imaging, Practice Management
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Pennsylvania will become the 13th state to require post-mammography notification to women who have dense breasts, assuming that Governor Tom Corbett signs, as promised, the bill that the Legislature approved last week.

The bill says each mammography report must include the patient’s breast density information as determined by the American College of Radiology’s Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS). It mandates that mammography patients be told that dense breast tissue, while common, can make it harder to find cancer on a mammogram and “may be associated with an increased risk of cancer.”

The notification must also say the following:

This information about the result of your mammogram is given to you to raise your awareness and to inform your conversations with your physician. Together, you can decide which screening options are right for you, based on your mammogram results, individual risk factors or physical examination.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that, unlike some states that have passed similar laws, Pennsylvania will not require insurers to cover the cost of those additional screening options. Connecticut, which in 2009 became the first state to require notification of breast density, does require insurance coverage of supplemental ultrasound screening.

Data from Connecticut so far show both additional cancers detected and additional false positives, as an October 5, 2012, ACR report discusses. Regina Hooley, MD, an assistant professor of diagnostic radiology at Yale University, is among the experts quoted in that report.

More recently, an October 14, 2013, Hartford Courant article also quotes Dr. Hooley:

I think the law is working very well. Patients understand the value of additional testing and advantages for cancer screening.

She said that as ultrasound technicians’ expertise has increased, the rate of false positives has decreased.

However, the article also quotes Mary Pronovost, MD, a breast surgeon and medical director of the Norma F. Pfriem Breast Care Center at Bridgeport Hospital in Bridgeport, Connecticut:

While we’re finding a few more cancers, there’s no definitive data that says we’re saving more lives.

Research to clarify the risks and benefits is ongoing. Meanwhile, so is the tsunami of breast density notification laws rolling through state legislatures.

Related CME seminar (up to 24 AMA PRA Category 1 credits™): Chicago International Breast Course and The Society for the Advancement of Women’s Imaging

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