February 20, 2019 — The boards of Are You Dense Inc. and Are You Dense Advocacy Inc., founded by the late Nancy M. Cappello, Ph.D., announced her husband Joseph J. Cappello as their new executive director. For over a decade, Joseph has worked side-by-side as co-founder of the organizations with his wife, earning him a unique perspective of the critical issue on adjunct screening for women with dense breast tissue.
“Duty compels me to carry on my wife’s mission,” said Cappello. “Women have the right to know their breast density status, to have their complete breast health information. This vital piece of information was denied to Nancy when she was originally diagnosed with late stage 3c breast cancer in 2004. As a result of her hard work, 36 states currently mandate physicians to tell their patients their breast density status.
“Now, we are focusing our energies on getting legislation passed in the remaining 14 states” Cappello added.
Science for decades has demonstrated that dense breast tissue is associated with a higher-than-average risk of breast cancer and that dense breast tissue can mask cancers on mammograms, making them impossible to detect. Adjunct screening to mammography, such as ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), significantly increase detection of early cancers in dense breasts.
Nancy Cappello launched the legislative action of her organizations after being diagnosed with advanced-stage breast cancer in 2004 despite decades of normal mammography results. None of her physicians told her that she had dense breast tissue, which had hidden the growing cancer in her breast, and none advised her to get adjunct screening. Her home state of Connecticut passed the first bill in 2009.
Nancy passed away in November due to complications from myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a rare form of bone marrow cancer that in some instances may be associated with previous radiation and chemotherapy cancer treatments.
“I am empowered and honored to further the Are You Dense? mission,” said Joseph Cappello, “that being to reduce missed, delayed and advanced stage breast cancer by increasing access to early detection for women with dense breasts leading to reduced harms from aggressive treatments and better survival outcomes.”