Dense Breast Debates
Bet that title is a string of words that you haven't seen before!
Today's entry is about a growing movement related to the larger concern about screening, specifically about the value of mammograms. As you may know, mammograms are less useful for women with dense breasts (usually meaning, younger pre-menopausal women). The description sometimes used for trying to read these films is: "Like looking for a polar bear in a snowstorm." As women age, their breasts naturally become less dense, and mammograms are more clear. Since breast cancer incidence rises with age, this is a good thing.
In some quarters, there is so much alarm about this that an advocacy group has been formed, and a few states, including New York, have passed laws about it. Very honestly, I don't feel that I know enough about all of this to make an intelligent comment or assessment. I have been following, for several years, the hot debate about the value of mammograms at all; there have been a number of recent studies that suggest they don't save lives. How exactly this fits is is not entirely obvious to me.
For your interest, here are links to two relevant artices. The first is about laws and the second is an advocacy piece.
The Dense Breasts Debate
SOME STATES ARE MANDATING THAT DOCTORS TELL PATIENTS ABOUT BREAST DENSITY, WHICH CAN AFFECT CANCER RISK
As the adage goes, knowledge is power, but are laws that require doctors to give women information about their breast density empowering-or confusing?
In recent years, awareness of the relationship between dense breast tissue and increased breast cancer risk has moved from the doctor's office to legislators' desks. Texas, Virginia and Connecticut have already passed legislation which requires that women be told if they have dense breast tissue and about options for follow-up testing. Similar bills are pending in 17 other states.