Effect of Legislation on Breast Density Notification

April 19, 2016

Were more women notified of breast density after legislation passed in their state?

The percentage of women who are told they have dense breast tissue following mammography is the same now as it was before legislation was passed requiring radiologists to make these notifications, according to a study published in Radiology.  

Researchers from Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC, and the American College of Radiology in Reston, VA, performed a retrospective study to evaluate the impact of breast density notification legislation on breast density reporting by radiologists nationally.

The researchers used state-level data from 1,333,541 mammograms collected over a five-year period from the National Mammography Database (NMD), looking at breast density categorization and breast cancer detection. The period covered 20 months before legislation enactment to 10 months following enactment. The researchers found that facilities in 13 of 17 states that had breast density notification legislation as of 2014 submitted data to the NMD before and after law enactment.

While the results showed a small but statistically significant decrease in the percentage of mammograms reported as showing dense breast tissue in the month before the law was enacted, there were no other statistically significant differences:

 % of Mammograms Reported as Dense Breast TissueCancer Detection Rate per 1,000 Mammograms
1 Month Before Law Enacted43.0%3.9 cancers
1 Month After Law Enacted40.0%3.8 cancers
10 Months After Law Enacted42.8%4.2 cancers

 

 

 

 

In 21 analyzed states that did not have breast density notification legislation, there was no decrease in mammogram reports from 2010 to 2014.  

The researchers concluded that there was a slight decrease in reporting following enactment of breast density notification legislation, but the percentage returned to prelegislation percentages within 10 months.