by Nancy Ryerson
, Staff Writer | November 04, 2013
Breast Cancer Awareness Month may have ended, but legislation supporting awareness is just gearing up.
In the House on Oct. 31, representatives Rose DeLauro (CT) and Steve Israel (NY) introduced the Breast Density and Mammography Reporting Act of 2013 (HR 3404). Sen. Dianne Feinstein (CA) has said she will introduce a companion bill in the Senate shortly. And on Nov. 1, Pennsylvania became the 13th state to require breast density inform.
In states without breast density inform legislation, doctors are not required to tell women when they have dense breasts, which make mammograms more difficult to read. Women with dense breasts also have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Today, 45 percent of women live in states with breast density notification laws.
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But the legislation's wording varies widely
from state to state. Some start with phrases like "If you have dense breasts" without indicating whether the woman does or not, which can lead to confusion. That's one reason advocates are calling for the national breast density law introduced in the House. The national law would be based on Connecticut's legislation. Connecticut was the first state to pass legislation in 2009.
Opponents of the legislation say that breast cancer screenings cause too many false positives as it is, but advocates say the legislation will allow women to make better-informed decisions about the screening they seek out.