SB 1538 Improves Breast Cancer Detection Information Following Mammograms

Bill Update:  Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1538 to improve breast cancer detection in women with dense breast tissue. Read more.

CFC Position:  Support

Mammography is one of the key tools upon which women and their doctors rely to detect breast cancer. Because dense breast tissue can obscure the results of a mammogram, a woman’s awareness of her own breast density is critical to her continued health. Dense breast tissue can increase a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.

SB 1538 provides a simple notification requirement that ensures that a woman is aware of her breast density so she can make informed decisions about her healthcare. This bill requires that a health facility providing mammograms provide a woman with general information about breast density and advise her to discuss the situation with her doctor if she is identified as having dense breast tissue.

To avoid creating an additional burden on healthcare facilities, this notice would be incorporated into the existing, federally-required mammography report. This bill, from April 1, 2013 until January 1, 2019 would require, under specified circumstances, a health facility at which a mammography examination is performed to include in the summary of the written report that is sent to the patient a prescribed notice on breast density.

A similar bill was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown last year. Since the veto, Virginia and Texas have joined the roster of states with breast density notification laws, and two studies from the first year of a similar law’s implementation in Connecticut have shown a 100 percent increase in breast cancer detection rates in women with dense breast tissue who had supplementary screenings. Congress and 15 states have related legislation pending.