November 6, 2013 — Gov. Tom Corbett today signed the Breast Density Notification Act into law, requiring mammogram reports to include breast density information. The change will improve early detection of breast cancer for thousands of women across Pennsylvania.
Corbett was joined by First Lady Susan Corbett; bill sponsors Senator Bob Mensch (R-Montgomery) and Representative Karen Boback (R-Luzerne); Pat Halpin-Murphy from the PA Breast Cancer Coalition (PBCC); breast cancer survivors and their families; and members of the medical community.
Dense breast tissue can make cancer harder to find on a mammogram, which increases the risk of a late-stage diagnosis in many women. The new law will require mammographers to notify women of their breast density and offer other screening options in addition to their routine mammograms.
"I am proud to sign this bill today to improve breast cancer detection and ensure our daughters, our mothers, our wives, our sisters and our friends have earlier access to lifesaving care," said Corbett. "I want to thank Senator Mensch, Representative Boback, the PBCC and all the legislators, survivors and families from across Pennsylvania for their dedication to this issue and their choice to take action and save lives."
"We applaud Governor Corbett for assisting in the battle to knock out breast cancer with enactment of this critical new law,” said Halpin-Murphy, president and founder, PBCC. “This is a historic moment for breast cancer survivors in Pennsylvania and the PA Breast Cancer Coalition. I want to thank Governor and Mrs. Corbett for recognizing the importance of the Breast Density Notification Act on the lives of women and families in our state. This legislation will save lives."
Cindy Spinello, a breast cancer survivor from Union County, spoke of how she had regular mammograms and annual examinations, but was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer that had been masked by dense tissue in July 2012.
"I am overjoyed with the Governor's signing of this bill," Spinello said. "As a late-stage breast cancer patient, I know what a difference early detection can make. Breast density notification will increase early detection and save lives."
"We will continue to find ways to guarantee Pennsylvania's women have access to the quality care they need, as we've been discussing through our Healthy Pennsylvania initiative over the last few months," Corbett said.
Corbett's Healthy Pennsylvania plan focuses on improving access, ensuring quality and providing affordability through a variety of initiatives such as promoting primary care and health information technology, convening a Healthy Pennsylvania Summit and reforming Pennsylvania's Medicaid program.
Pennsylvania became the 13th state to enact laws addressing mandatory breast density notification. The act becomes effective in 90 days.
On the federal regulatory level, a Breast Density Reporting amendment to the Mammography Quality Standards Act (MQSA) is scheduled to be issued as a "Notice of Proposed Rulemaking" in Dec. 2013. On the federal legislative front, Reps. DeLauro (Conn.) and Israel (N.Y.) have introduced The Breast Density and Mammography Reporting Act of 2013 (HR 3404) and Sen. Feinstein will be introducing a companion bill in the Senate.
States with enacted laws:
Connecticut, Texas, Virginia, New York, California, Hawaii, Maryland, Tennessee, Alabama, Nevada, Oregon, North Carolina, Pennsylvania.