Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the “Breast Density Inform” (S.6769-B) bill into effect, co-sponsored by State Senator Marty Golden, making New York the fourth state with a breast density information law to pass.
The law will help increase women’s awareness of the presence of dense breast tissue, indicative of an increased risk for breast cancer, found during a mammography examination. It states that every mammography report given to a patient with dense breast tissue must specifically inform the patient in plain, non-technical language that she has dense breast tissue. Further, the patient should be told that more screenings may be necessary to detect cancers.
Connecticut, Texas and Virginia passed the law, in addition to 13 states considering the measure. Other legislation has also been introduced to make it a federal law.
“This new law will help save women’s lives by increasing their awareness of a known breast cancer risk factor,” Golden said in a press release. “Along with routine breast cancer screenings, the information provided by physicians to those with dense breast tissue can help increase early detection of the disease and give patients a greater ability to make educated decisions about their health.”
Mammogram films of breasts with higher density are harder to read and interpret than those of less dense breasts. Approximately 40 to 50 percent of tumors in dense tissue may not be detected since this condition obscures their presence.
According to medical studies, breast cancer is four to six times more likely in women with denser breast tissue.
In spite of the risk factor presented by dense breast tissue, a recent Harris Interactive survey found that 95 percent of women do not know their breast density, and less than one-in-10 women learn about breast density from their physician.
Prior to this new law, there were no legal requirements for patients in New York to be informed about their breast density.