Press Releases

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 mammogram reports to include whether a woman has dense tissue, so she can discuss with her doctor if she should seek additional screening. Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Steve Israel (N.Y.) introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives.

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 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 informed 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.”

“Preventative screenings are critically important to early detection of breast cancer, and they help save lives,” said Senator Ayotte. “It’s also important that women have the information they need to be able to make informed decisions about their health care, and our bipartisan bill would ensure that women are informed about their relative breast density after a mammogram – giving them the option to discuss additional screenings and tests with their doctor.”

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.

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