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A new bill is proposing a requirement
for mammogram reports received by
patients to include whether they have
dense breast tissue

New bill calls for dense breast tissue notification in patient-received mammo reports

by John R. Fischer , Staff Reporter
A new bill is proposing to include whether patients receiving mammography reports are to be informed that they have dense breast tissue.

U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D.-Calif.) and Dean Heller (R.-Nev.) introduced the Breast Density and Mammography Reporting Act of 2017 in late October, explaining that informing women of the presence of dense breast tissue enables them to speak with their health care providers about additional screening options to ensure thorough evaluations for breast cancer diagnoses.

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“Early detection of breast cancer is key to survival, and women must be given the resources they need to make the best health care decisions,” Senator Feinstein said in a statement. “By requiring that patients be informed if they have dense tissue, our bill would empower women to make potentially lifesaving decisions about their care, in consultation with their health care providers.”

Dense tissue can often cover up and prevent mammograms from effectively detecting cancer, putting many women at risk of not seeking treatment early on. While reports received by physicians do include whether a woman has dense breast tissue, there is currently no federal standard requiring that women be informed of this fact.

If passed, the bill would require a minimum federal standard, designated by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), for women to be notified if they have dense breast tissue. Such patients would then be recommended to speak with their providers about additional screening options. It also directs HHS to evaluate improved screening options.

“As someone with a family history of breast cancer, I understand how important it is to continue working to put an end to this horrible disease,” said Senator Heller in a statement. “With enough resources and more bipartisan action from Congress, I know that a cure is within our reach. I am proud to work with Senator Feinstein to introduce this critical bipartisan legislation and look forward to working with my colleagues to stay on top of this issue until breast cancer no longer exists.”

The bill is supported by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Are You Dense Advocacy, Susan G. Komen, DenseBreast-info, Tigerlily Foundation, Prevent Cancer Foundation, Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered, Don’t be a Chump! Check for a Lump!, Sharsheret, National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health, Black Women’s Health Imperative and Men Against Breast Cancer.

Neither senators Feinstein nor Heller were available for comment.

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