New bill requires facilities notify patients of breast tissue density to inform cancer screening
Mammograms are a less effective diagnostic tool for people with dense breast tissue — but patients may not know they have dense breast tissue. Lawmakers want to require facilities to assess breast tissue density and provide that information to the patient.
Last March, the FDA published updated requirements for patients to be notified if their breast tissue is considered “dense” or “not dense.” House Bill 1058, passed by a House committee Tuesday, would put Indiana into compliance with these new regulations.
Heather Pirowski had her first mammogram in 2019, but wasn’t aware of the limitations of the test. She said despite having dense breast tissue, her provider did not recommend additional diagnostic testing, and she was later diagnosed with stage three inflammatory breast cancer.
“We have two sons, a junior at Indiana University and a sophomore at Fishers High School,” Pirowski said. “And odds are, I will not see them graduate.”
Pirowski said early detection can save lives.
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Dr. Tarah Ballinger, an oncologist at IU health focused on breast cancer, said knowing that a patient has dense breast tissue is important because it allows providers to try other imaging tests.
“It also lets us know what that individual's risk is because there are other preventative things we can do, including medications that actually reduce the risk of breast cancer,” Ballinger said.
The measure requires providers to use specific language to notify patients and to inform them that other imaging can help find cancers. The notification either informs people their breast tissue is dense or not dense, with a more specific classification sent to the referring provider.
The bill was unanimously passed out of committee.
Abigail is our health reporter. Contact them at email@example.com.