June 24, 2011 — Texas Governor Rick Perry signed into law Texas Act HB2102, known as “Henda’s Law,” which will take effect Sept. 1, 2011. Texas is the second state after Connecticut to mandate the inclusion of breast density risk language in the report sent to women after their mammogram.
Henda’s Law began with Henda Salmeron of Dallas, now a breast cancer survivor since her diagnosis of stage II breast cancer in 2009. Her cancer had not been discovered on her mammogram due to her high level of dense breast tissue.
“According to a recent Harris Poll, 95 percent of women are utterly unaware of their own breast density as there is currently no protocol in 48 of 50 states for her to be told,” says Nancy Cappello, M.D., president and co-founder of Are You Dense Advocacy and responsible for the first dense breast information law passed in Connecticut in 2009.
Newer breast imaging technologies have been developed that can see through breast density. With the supplement of newer imaging tools, such as ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or molecular breast imaging (MBI), tumor detection has increased when compared to mammography in women with dense breasts.
The American Cancer Society describes breast density as the relative amount of different tissues present in the breast. A dense breast has less fat than glandular and connective tissue. Mammogram films of breasts with higher density are harder to read and interpret than those of less dense breasts. Both cancer and density appear white on a mammogram, so detecting tumors can be nearly impossible.
According to the American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ACRIN), 40 percent of all women undergoing screening mammography have dense breasts. Breasts tend to become less dense as women get older, but some women continue to have dense breast tissue throughout life. Over 50 percent of women under the age of 50 and one-third of women older than 50 have dense breasts.
For more information: www.areyoudenseadvocacy.org