Lawmakers announce bill to notify women with dense breast tissue after mammogram

Lawmakers announce bill to notify women with dense breast tissue after mammogram

A new bill introduced by Rep. Mike Rohrkaste (R-Neenah) and Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) on Wednesday would require radiologists to notify a woman with dense breast tissue after a mammogram.

About 40 percent of women have dense breast tissue, putting them at higher risk of breast cancer and making tumors more difficult to detect.

“Early detection is the key to treating and surviving breast cancer. This bill will ensure that women in Wisconsin understand their test results and can begin detecting breast cancer as early as possible,” said Darling, a breast cancer survivor.

Recent breast cancer survivor Gail Zeamer, who originally brought the idea to Rohrkaste, said even though she got mammograms every six months, she didn’t know her risk.

“What was never mentioned to me in all of this time was that I had dense breasts, which turns out masked my nearly 4 cm tumor over the course of nearly two years,” said Zeamer.

Zeamer said her radiologist later told her trying to find the tumor in her dense breast tissue was like “looking for a polar bear in a snow storm.”

LRB 3518 would require facilities that perform mammograms to notify women of density level 3 or 4 on the summary of their mammogram results, which is already sent to women through the mail after their appointment.

If the bill is passed, Wisconsin would be the 32nd state to implement this requirement, joining California, New York and Minnesota.

In the past the Wisconsin Breast Cancer Coalition has been critical of similar regulations. They believe reporting a woman’s density level may give the patient a false sense of security or un-founded fear, leading to more screenings and expenses. A spokeswoman said they will look at the new bill with fresh eyes.

Supporters want to see the bill get through session in early January.

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