Breast Density Legislation Would Standardize Patient Education, Empower Informed Decision Making
WASHINGTON, D.C. – October 26, 2017 – Bipartisan legislation (H.R. 4122/S. 2006) introduced this week in Congress aims to provide women and doctors with clear information on breast density and its potential to mask the presence of breast cancer.
The legislation, sponsored by Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Penn.) and Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.), would direct the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop evidence-based language on dense breast tissue that would be provided in writing to women following a mammogram. Currently, women are often not told about their dense breast tissue or are only told that they have a higher cancer risk because of dense breast tissue without any other details.
“This legislation will help ensure women get the information they need after a mammogram. If they have dense breasts they can then begin to work with their doctors to make informed decisions about their health,” said Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN).
More research is needed on how breast density impacts breast cancer screening. This legislation also encourages the HHS Secretary to support an applied research program for breast density and breast cancer screening.
Breast density can only be determined by a mammogram. The American Cancer Society recommends that women receive an annual mammogram beginning at age 45. The Breast Density and Mammography Reporting Act will help ensure that women who are found to have dense breasts are encouraged to have a follow-up discussion with their health care provider about next steps based on their individual risk factors.