NY Breast Density Inform Law: Raising Breast Density Awareness

October 21, 2013

Pearl River, NY – In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee (D-Suffern) will hold a press conference to educate women and the community about breast density and New York’s landmark Breast Density Inform Law, which she sponsored. Raising awareness of breast density helps increase detection of early stage cancer when it is most treatable and survivable.

“Early detection saves lives. This law empowers women with dense breast tissue to get the information they need about their own breast density and to talk with their doctors to determine whether further screening is recommended,” said Jaffee.

Dense breast tissue can make it harder to find cancer on a mammogram because dense tissue appears white, like cancer, and may hide tumors. Breast density may also be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer

The Breast Density Inform law is designed to help improve early breast cancer detection and prevention by requiring mammography providers to inform a woman in clear, non-technical language if dense breast tissue is found during an exam and to encourage her to have a follow-up conversation with her doctor about her history, risks and the benefit of supplemental screening.

The law mandates that the following notification is included in the mammography report given to a woman who is found to have dense breast tissue: "Your mammogram shows that your breast tissue is dense. Dense breast tissue is very common and is not abnormal. However, dense breast tissue can make it harder to find cancer on a mammogram and may also be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. This information about the

result of your mammogram is given to you to raise your awareness. Use this information to talk to your doctor about your own risks for breast cancer. At that time, ask your doctor if more screening tests might be useful, based on your risk. A report of your results was sent to your physician."

JoAnn Pushkin, breast cancer survivor-turned-advocate, who inspired the law, will share her personal experience. Pushkin’s cancer went undiagnosed for five years because her annual mammograms did not detect a tumor due to dense breast tissue. Co-Founder, D.E.N.S.E (Density Education National Survivors' Effort) and Co-Founder Dense New York, Pushkin continues to advocate for the passage of Breast Density Inform laws in other states as well as at the federal level.

New York’s Breast Density Inform law is the most comprehensive in the nation and serves as a template to other states as they draft similar legislation. To date a half dozen states have used language developed by Assemblywoman Jaffee and Senator John Flanagan (R-Islip) in New York.

Assemblywoman Jaffee will be joined by Patricia Joseph, MD, Director of Breast and Women’s Health Prevention Services at Nyack Hospital, a breast surgeon with a special interest in community outreach and education, as well as radiologist, Shari Siegel-Goldman, MD, Director of Breast Imaging at Hudson Valley Radiology Associates (HVRA) and Nyack Hospital. A question and answer period will follow.