Question: I have been getting more questions recently about breast cancer screening and dense breasts. Why?
Answer: The North Carolina legislature recently passed a law (Session Law 2013-321) requiring that women who have mammograms be informed of their breast tissue type. Specifically, women who have dense breast tissue will receive the following statement in writing as part of their mammogram result:
"Your mammogram indicates that you may have dense breast tissue. Dense breast tissue is relatively common and is found in more than forty percent (40%) of women. The presence of dense tissue may make it more difficult to detect abnormalities in the breast and may be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. We are providing this information to raise your awareness of this important factor and to encourage you to talk with your physician about this and other breast cancer risk factors. Together, you can decide which screening options are right for you. A report of your results was sent to your physician."
Question: Why is this new? I thought that mammogram results always included information about density.
Answer: Radiologists have routinely reported the breast density as part of their interpretation for years, which is in the report sent to the patient's physician or available on an electronic medical database. However, up until now, it has not been a part of the standard letter that women receive.