Contact: Andrea Cohen
On Behalf of Are You Dense Advocacy, Inc.
For Immediate Release: October 25, 2017
Press Release here.
Federal Density Reporting Bill Introduced in House and Senate
Nancy M. Cappello, Ph.D., Director and Founder of the two nonprofits Are You Dense Advocacy, Inc. and Are You Dense Inc. applauds Senators Dianne Feinstein (CA) and Dean Heller (NV) and Representatives Rosa DeLauro (CT) and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA) for the reintroduction in both the Senate and the House of the national Breast Density and Mammography Reporting Act of 2017 in the 115th Congress.
Dr. Cappello recently met with Congressional staff on Capitol Hill to secure the bi-partisan reintroduction of this national standard to disclose dense breast tissue to the patient for shared screening decisions with health care providers.
The bill sets a minimum federal standard, as designated by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), for dense breast tissue notification and recommends women discuss with their doctors whether additional screening is necessary. The bill also directs HHS to study improved screening options for women with dense tissue.
“After nearly fourteen years of working with state legislators on the reporting of a woman’s breast tissue density as part of her mammography reporting results, I am encouraged that we are closer to standardizing breast density reporting nationwide,” states Dr. Cappello. “This bill enables women to learn about their dense breast tissue, an important risk factor for breast cancer and ultimately empowers women to make informed breast health screening decisions which can be life-saving.”
Research for decades concludes that breast density is a leading cause when mammograms fail to detect cancer, missing up to half of cancers in dense breasts. Women with dense breast tissue may receive normal mammogram reports even if cancer is present because dense tissue can obscure tumors. Research also demonstrates that dense breast tissue is an independent risk factor for breast cancer, surpassing family history, obesity, and later in life childbirth. Currently, there is no national, standardized mandate for health care providers to disclose a patient’s dense breast tissue and discuss its impact on missed, delayed and later-stage cancers.
Thirty-one states enacted density reporting legislation since Connecticut’s first landmark reporting law in 2009. The Connecticut law was inspired by Dr. Cappello whose breast cancer, invisible by mammography screening, was ultimately detected once palpable and at an advanced stage. It was at the time of her stage 3C diagnosis that she was informed that her dense breast tissue masked her cancer for years. She later went on to launch two nonprofit organizations, Are You Dense Inc. and Are You Dense Advocacy, Inc., which have fueled a global grassroots breast density advocacy movement.