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Arizona and New Jersey are latest states to require breast-density notifications after mammograms

Posted May 6, 2014 5:50 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Laws in 15 states require radiologists to notify patients about breast density in an effort to highlight the difficulty of detecting cancer in women with dense breast tissue.

New Jersey and Arizona are the 14th and 15th states to enact such laws, report the Newark Star-Ledger, Fox News, Dotmed News, ASRT and the Are You Dense website. Dense breasts can make cancer harder to detect and are a risk factor for breast cancer, the stories say.

The New Jersey law requires only a disclaimer for women who receive mammograms warning that they may have dense breasts and they should discuss the issue with their doctors, according to the Star-Ledger and Fox News. The New Jersey law also requires increased health coverage for ultrasounds, which can find cancers missed on mammograms.

The law in Arizona, like a law in North Carolina that took effect Jan. 1, requires women to be notified which of four types of breast density they have.

The least-dense breast tissue is fatty, followed by scattered fibroglandular, heterogeneously dense and extremely dense, the Asheville Citizen-Times reports. About 40 percent of women in the United States are in the heterogeneously dense category, and 10 percent are in the extremely dense category.

Julie Young, a lawyer and Wells Fargo bank vice president, tells the Citizen-Times she hopes the North Carolina law will help educate women and help save their lives. Young was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2012 after she discovered a lump that was never detected on mammograms.

"I remember gynecologists or technicians saying that I had dense breasts, but I didn't know what that meant," Young told the Citizen-Times. "What I'm really hoping for with this law is that it will begin a more meaningful discussion with patients surrounding their breast health."

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