Breast density notification laws continue to spread

When it comes to breast density notification laws, it seems like there’s a new development at the state level every couple of weeks. It was only one month ago that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed her state’s breast density notification bill, making Arizona the 15th state to require that patients are informed if a mammogram reveals they have dense breast tissue.

Which state will be lucky number 16? Minnesota appears to have the inside track, as earlier this month, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed a breast density notification bill by a bipartisan vote of 126-7.

Advocates of such laws argue that they are necessary to keep women informed, as dense breast tissue can make it more difficult to detect cancers using mammography. Once patients are educated about their own breast density, they can consult with their physician about the possibility of undergoing additional screening, if necessary.

Minnesota isn’t the only state with a bill in the pipeline. According to the website for Are You Dense Advocacy, the government relations affiliate of Are You Dense, Inc., the following states also have introduced a bill:

  • Massachusetts
  • Rhode Island
  • Delaware
  • South Carolina
  • Michigan
  • Ohio
  • Kentucky
  • Indiana
  • Illinois
  • Missouri
  • Iowa
  • Colorado
  • Washington

Lawmakers in Maine, Georgia and Florida are currently working on a bill that has yet to be introduced.

In addition to the flurry of state-level measures, a federal law also is in the works. The Breast Density and Mammography Reporting Act (HR 3404), was introduced by Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Steve Israel (D-N.Y.).

This type of legislation seems to have gained strong momentum since Connecticut became the first state to introduce a breast notification law in 2009. It is perhaps only a matter of time before mammography providers in every state are covered by such a law, and women across the country gain a better awareness of this important health issue.

-Evan Godt
Editor – Health Imaging