Dense Breast Notification Law Signed

Jul 29, 2014

Governor Lincoln Chafee has signed legislation that requires health care providers to tell women if they have dense breast tissue. The law is aimed at helping detect cancers a mammogram might miss.

Mammogram shows dense breast tissue on the left, a breast with mostly fatty tissue on the right.
Credit Mayo Clinic

Dense breast tissue is pretty common, especially in younger women. The issue is that dense tissue can make it more difficult for a mammogram to “see” cancerous growths. You may not be able to tell whether your breasts are made up of more dense tissue, but a radiologist can see it on a mammogram.

So the new law will require health care providers to tell women if their mammograms show they have dense breast tissue. Then a woman and her doctor can talk about any additional screening that might be right for her. Those additional screenings could include an ultrasound or an MRI, which can sometimes pick up cancers a mammogram cannot.

19 states have passed breast density notification laws so far, and legislation is pending in several more.