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Healthwise: New Mammography Laws

June 27, 2012

Starting Sunday, a number of laws will go into effect in the Commonwealth; one will change the reporting when it comes to women and mammography.

The new legislation is called HB 83 and it goes into effect on July 1. It requires all facilities doing mammography not only to inform the referring clinician about the density of a patient’s breast, but also to inform the patient.

“Our thoughts are that a better informed patient is a better patient,” said Dr. Colt Peyton, a Diagnostic Radiologist at Martha Jefferson.

Dr. Peyton says interpreting a screening when a woman has dense breasts may be more difficult than in images where the women don’t have dense breasts.

“Breast tissue is essentially composed of fatty tissue or fibrous tissue. Fibrous tissue is dense breast; it is white on a mammogram and it can make interpretation somewhat challenging the more dense the patient’s breast,” said Dr. Peyton.

Dr. Peyton also says that women who have dense breasts may also be at an increased risk for breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, two thirds of women under age 50 have dense breast tissue. That’s why Dr. Peyton encourages regular mammograms.

“Almost all breast cancer is subtle and therefore it is important and imperative that patients undergo a yearly screening mammography so that the radiologist can look for subtle changes that indicate early breast cancer,” said Dr. Peyton.

In just a few days, each time a woman goes in for a mammogram, the new law will make sure she finds out important information about her breasts density.

Dr. Peyton says the only way a person will know if they have dense breasts is by mammography. It’s not something that you can tell by a physical exam or a self-breast exam.

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