Legislation empowers women to make informed health care decisions
Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) today introduced the Breast Density and Mammography Reporting Act of 2017, which would improve breast cancer detection by requiring the mammogram report a woman already receives to include whether she has dense tissue, so she can discuss with her health care provider if she should seek additional screening.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths for Hispanic women and the second-leading cause of cancer deaths for white, black, Asian/Pacific Islander and American Indian/Alaska Native women.
Women with dense breast tissue may receive normal mammogram reports even if cancer is present because dense tissue can obscure cancer and look the same on the mammogram. Currently, there is no federal standard requiring women to be informed if they have dense tissue.
The bill would set a minimum federal standard, as designated by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), for notification about dense tissue and recommend women discuss with their health care providers whether they might benefit from additional screening. The mammogram report received by doctors already includes density information. The bill also directs HHS to study improved screening options for women with dense tissue.
“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,” said Senator Feinstein. “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.”
“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. With enough resources and more bipartisan action from Congress, I know that a cure is within our reach,” said Senator Heller. “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 Breast Density and Mammography Reporting Act of 2017 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.