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Gov. Jan Brewer signs breast density law

by Loren Bonner, DOTmed News Online Editor | April 22, 2014
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer
Arizona became the fifteenth state to require physicians to inform women if they have dense breasts along with the possible risks that can be present.

After legislation was introduced at the request of a diagnostic radiologist in Arizona, and went through the procedural votes in both chambers, Governor Jan Brewer signed SB 1225 into law late last week.

According to JoAnn Pushkin, founder of D.E.N.S.E. NY, 50 percent of U.S. women now live in states where density notification is required.

Connecticut was the first state to pass breast density inform legislation in 2009, followed by Texas, Virginia, California, New York, and most recently Hawaii, Maryland, Alabama, Tennessee, Nevada, Oregon, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, New Jersey and now Arizona.

Studies have shown that women with dense breast tissue — which often makes it hard for radiologists to see abnormalities on a mammogram — have a higher rate of breast cancer. However, a recent study from the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found breast density was not linked to increased cancer deaths. There is also debate in the medical community about what constitutes breast density in a woman, even though imaging equipment vendors have developed special qualitative software aimed at measuring breast density.

A federal breast density law, introduced by Reps. DeLauro (CT) and Israel (NY), is also making its way through Congress and on the federal regulatory level, a Breast Density Reporting amendment to the Mammography Quality Standards Act (MQSA) is scheduled to be issued as a "Notice of Proposed Rulemaking" this year.

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