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Feinstein, Ayotte Introduce Bill to Improve Breast Cancer Detection

Legislation empowers women to make informed health care decisions

Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) today introduced the Breast Density and Mammography Reporting Act, 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 doctor if she should seek additional screening.

The bill is cosponsored by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

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. 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 and recommend women discuss with their doctors whether additional screening is necessary. The mammogram report received by doctors and technicians 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 every available resource to make the best health care decisions,” said Senator Feinstein. “By requiring that patients be informed if they have dense tissue, this bill allows women to make potentially lifesaving choices about their care, in consultation with their doctors.”

“It’s imperative for women to have the information they need to make the right decisions about their health care. Our bipartisan bill would ensure that women are aware of their breast density after a mammogram, giving them the opportunity to discuss with their health care provider whether additional screenings and tests would be beneficial,” said Senator Ayotte. “Simply put, having this kind of information can potentially help save women’s lives.”

The Breast Density Mammography and Reporting Act is supported by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Breast Cancer Fund, Susan G. Komen and Are You Dense Advocacy.