Massachusetts and Missouri have become the 18th and 19th states, respectively,
to enact breast density notification laws.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick signed MA House Bill 3733 (S. 2181) into law on June 26th. The statute will require mammography services providers to supply a patient with written notification "in terms easily understood by a lay person" if the patient’s mammogram reveals dense breast tissue, as determined by the interpreting physician.
The law also tasks the department of public health to promulgate implementation regulations by Jan. 1st, 2015, but it specifies that the notice state the following, at a minimum:
1. That the patient’s mammogram shows dense breast tissue;
2. That dense breast tissue is common and not abnormal, but that dense breast tissue may increase the risk of breast cancer;
3. That dense breast tissue can make it more difficult to find cancer on a mammogram, and that sometimes additional testing is needed for reliable breast cancer screening;
4. The interpreting physician’s determination whether or not additional testing is recommended for the patient. If additional testing is recommended, then the interpreting physician shall make or note the need for an appropriate referral;
5. That the patient has the right to discuss the results of the patient’s mammogram with the interpreting radiologist or the referring physician; and
6. That a report of the patient’s mammogram has been sent to the referring physician, and will become part of the patient’s medical record.
In addition, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed the state’s breast density notification bill into law on July 2nd. The new law (Mo. Senate Bill 639), effective Jan. 1, 2015, requires mammography facilities to provide the following notice to patients following the completion of a mammogram:
If your mammogram demonstrates that you have dense breast tissue, which could hide abnormalities, and you have other risk factors for breast cancer that have been identified, you might benefit from supplemental screening tests that may be suggested by your ordering physician. Dense breast tissue, in and of itself, is a relatively common condition. Therefore, this information is not provided to cause undue concern, but rather to raise your awareness and to promote discussion with your physician regarding the presence of other risk factors, in addition to dense breast tissue. A report of your mammography results will be sent to you and your physician. You should contact your physician if you have any questions or concerns regarding this report.
Please visit ACR’s website for resources on breast imaging.
By Eugenia Krimer-Brandt, ACR director of state affairs