Are YOU Dense?

i went to a talk by Senator Joe Simitian.

He needs more signatures to get California Governor Jerry
to sign a law that adds a sentence to Mammogram results,
that inform a woman whether she has dense breast tissue.

this is already a law in 4 states.

“Dense Breasts” make detecting cancer via Mammogram unlikely,
because cancer and dense breast tissue both show as white.

BI-RADSThese  mammograms are of the 4  grades of breast tissue density. (left to right) least dense to extremely dense.

Over the past decade, peer reviewed scientific studies have demonstrated that mammography misses breast cancer at least 40% of the time in women with dense breasts

Additionally, the research has shown that by utilizing adjuvant breast screening tools, detection of early stage breast cancer can increase up to 100% for women with dense breast tissue. By failing to enact life saving screening protocols for women with dense breast tissue, cancers are detected at a later stage than necessary when least treatable and survivable. The impact on the health care system is also significant as a later stage diagnosis is 13 times more costly to treat than an early stage diagnosis.

Breast density is one of the strongest risk factors associated with breast cancer

According to the National Institute of Health and 18 other studies spanning 8 countries, breast density is recognized as one of, if not the strongest risk factor associated with development of breast cancer. Breast density represents a stronger risk factor than age or having a first degree (mom/sister) relative with the disease. Studies have found breast density increases the likelihood of developing breast cancer between 3.6 and 18 fold.

There is currently no protocol mandating physician disclosure of breast density to patient

Public safety mandates that the government enact a policy that will require health care providers to start telling women the truth about the effectiveness of their mammograms.

The medical community has failed to enact a standard that simply requires doctors to tell women that mammography can miss more cancer than it detects in women who have dense breasts. As a result, women with dense breast tissue are being denied access to an Early Breast Cancer Diagnosis. A policy change by the government is necessary to ensure that patient safety becomes a high priority and that the communication of Breast Density to Women is standardized across the country.

When kept in the dark about this critical piece of their own health risk, women are denied the opportunity to partner in their breast cancer surveillance

Are You Dense Advocacy is advocating for equal access to early cancer detection for the 40% of American women with breast density. An amendment to the Mammography Quality Standards Act’s existing “lay letter” reporting requirement, to include information about a patient’s individual breast density, will give women critical health information about themselves. Without this information, women – kept in the dark about their own physiology and risk factors – can hardly be considered informed participants in their health surveillance.

This map shows 4 pink states passed the law, 12 red states endorsed a bill, 6 blue states working on a bill , 32 states have no action: interactive map of  Breast Density law progress

Cancer Patient care providers profit from late stage detection of cancer: Oncologists, Surgeons, Radiation technology…
We need laws to protect us from useless diagnostic radiation + those who stand to profit from late stage cancer. This law is a step in advocating for better early detection methods for all cancers.
Notification + further testing could have detected my cancer while breastfeeding + saved me from late cancer diagnosis, so i personally know it will save lives.
I almost died, because I was “dense” + believed in Mammograms + 2D ultrasound, to detect cancer in my 3D breasts of dense tissue!
-3D ultrasound  should be standard
-MRI’s + fine needle biopsies should be used for high surveillance
We need earlier detection now + all it takes is sending an email now…
Please send an email urging your State Representative to pass a Breast Density notification law using the form on  AreYouDense.org

mod*mom via AreYouDense.org

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6 Responses to Are YOU Dense?

  1. Thanks for that comparative image – it’s a good reminder to collect scans after the appointment (if that’s what you want to do) and stay on top of things.

  2. modmomblog says:

    on further reflection, i think the next law should be separate detection centers that have no profit motive in our results.
    like “smog test only” stations, that are separate from mechanics.

    Doctors are one of the few professions we trust with our lives,
    + one of the few professions we let tell us what we need to buy.
    Buyer beware.

  3. auntdonnie says:

    I had been having mammograms for 10 years before a tumor was found. Turns out I had FIVE cancerous tumors in one breast – undetected because of density. I am thankful that my state, New York, is finally on board with this issue. This issue is so important. Thanks for the post.

    • modmomblog says:

      AuntDonnie, That’s aweful the Mammograms gave you false negative results you relied on for 10 years while your tumors grew. thank YOU for reading my post + commenting.

  4. Marge Bowman says:

    My mammograms always showed calcifications for 8 years. It wasn’t until one became cancerous that they told me the risk with calcifications. Sent me for an MRI which missed the cancer in my right breast. I’d never had anything with the right. My breast surgeon, who performed my double mastectomy said I would’ve been in for the fight of my life in about 5 years. Pathology found it after my mastectomy.

  5. Renn says:

    For years I was told that I had dense breasts. Was never told that was a risk factor for cancer. I, too, had calcifications…difficult to see amid all my dense tissue. It took a radiologist (after my initial “all is normal” letter went out!) comparing my 2010 Mammogram to my 2009 Mammogram to notice an “architectural distortion” between the two. Additional views were suggested given that I had family history (my sister has BC at age 31). Had I *not* had family history (and 85% of women diagnosed with BC do NOT have family history, per the American Cancer Society), my “architectural distortion” may have been shelved for another year. I am thankful someone took a 2nd look at my films. Why, I will never know.

    Additional views lead to an ultrasound and a biopsy that revealed a 3.2 cm mass (not a lump, but regular breast tissue diffused with cancer cells) too close to my nipple to save it; in order to get clean margins, a lumpectomy would leave me deformed. I needed a mastectomy. I said give me a double.

    My advice: Forget looking for the letter from the imaging center that tells you”everything looks normal.” At the time of your mammogram, request that your present and prior films are reviewed against each other. Then request that a hard copy of your complete radiology report be mailed to you. Read it. Ask questions if anything seems unclear. Demand more views if your gut tells you you need them.

    PS My final pathology showed abnormal cell activity in the breast I removed prophylactically. Good thing I doubled down. 😉

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