May 29, 2014 — Minnesota and Rhode Island have become the 16th and 17th states to enact breast density inform legislation. By population, more than 50 percent of women now live in states requiring some level of notification about breast density in the letter sent to them after a mammogram. States with legislation still pending this session include Delaware, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio and South Carolina.
Approximately 40 percent of women have breast tissue categorized as dense — meaning relatively little fat and more connective and glandular tissue. Dense tissue can compromise the effectiveness of a mammogram and has also been cited as an independent risk factor for the development of breast cancer. As the American Cancer Society notes in Breast Cancer Facts & Figures, 2013-2014, “The risk of breast cancer increases with increasing breast density; women with very high density have a 4-to-6 fold increased risk of breast cancer compared to women with the least dense breasts.”
"The number of individual state reporting standards for density notification serves as true testament to the strength and effectiveness of grassroots advocacy. The good news is that the recently signed laws in Minnesota and Rhode Island mean just over half of U.S. women are assured of some level of density notification; the bad news is that the other half of U.S. women are not. What is needed for the protection of all U.S. women is a single national standard for density reporting," said JoAnn Pushkin, an advocate instrumental in the introduction of the New York law, federal efforts and cofounder of D.E.N.S.E.
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 2014. On the federal legislative front, Reps. DeLauro (CT) and Israel (NY) have introduced the Breast Density and Mammography Reporting Act of 2013 (HR 3404).
Breast Density is also a topic of increasing awareness outside of the United States. Canada has introduced bill C-314, An Act Respecting the awareness of screening among women with dense breast tissue and the U.K. has seen the emergence of a patient advocacy campaign.
*State laws in order of enactment: CT, TX, VA, NY, CA, HI, MD, TN, AL, NV, OR, NC, PA, NJ, AZ, MN, RI