California Law Would Require Docs to Inform Patients with Dense Breasts

Dense breast tissue can mask breast cancer tumors.

By Lesley Kennedy • MORE.com Reporter

Do you have dense breasts? You may need an alternative screening to detect breast cancer.

It turns out 40 percent of women have dense breast tissue that can mask breast cancer tumors during mammograms, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Now, a California bill, which Gov. Jerry Brown has until October to sign into law, calls for doctors to tell women if they have highly dense breast tissue, according to the newspaper.

Connecticut and Texas already have enacted similar laws, the Chronicle reports, and Connecticut also requires insurers to pony up for an alternative ultrasound screening.

“All it comes down to is a woman's right to know if she has a condition that masks breast cancer,” Amy Colton, who was diagnosed with later-stage breast cancer and who proposed the bill, tells the Chronicle.

Opponents of the measure say more studies are needed to prove alternative screenings are worth the price.

“Because the scope of who must receive the notice is so broad, women will be ‘scared’ into thinking they need these expensive additional screenings when it isn't at all warranted, leading to increased costs and pressures on a physician's practice,” the California Medical Association tells the Chronicle in a statement.

Call us dense, but isn’t breast cancer awareness all about prevention?

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First Published September 19, 2011

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