Federal Bill Would Mandate Breast Density Notification

July 17, 2014

Federal standard would require women be informed if they have dense breast tissue as indicated on mammogram.

A bill introducing a minimum federal standard for notifying women if they have dense breast tissue was introduced to the Senate today.

The Breast Density and Mammography Reporting Act, introduced by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), would require that mammogram reports include whether a woman has dense breast tissue. Several states have already passed legislation requiring notification of dense breast tissue, but this is the first attempt at a federal mandate. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"25886","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_4694806586485","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"2432","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"line-height: 1.538em; height: 211px; width: 150px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: right;","title":" ","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

The bill would set a federal minimum standard, as designated by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), for notification of breast density and recommend women discuss with their doctors whether additional screening is necessary. The bill also calls for research on improved screening options for women with dense tissue.

The state mandates of breast density notification have caused controversy because of variations in the text of the notification sent to women. While the federal bill does not outline specific text for the notification, it proposes the following information to be included, as specified by the Secretary: information about breast density, the effect of breast density on masking the presence of breast cancer on mammography, and communicate that individuals with dense breasts should consult with their physicians about questions or concerns and whether the patient would benefit from additional tests.

The bill includes research enhancements and asks HHS to “conduct or support applied research on breast density; research on the cost-effectiveness, effectiveness, and feasibility of reimbursement models for supplemental imaging related to breast density; and research in support of clinical guidelines and best practices concerning use of mammograms and supplemental screening for women with dense breasts.”

“It’s…important that women have the information they need to be able to make the informed decisions about their health care, and our bipartisan bill would ensure that women are informed about their relative breast density after a mammogram – giving them the option to discuss additional screenings and tests with their doctor,” Senator Ayotte said in a release.