Vermont's New Breast Density Reporting Law: What It Means For You
If you have had a mammogram in the past few months, you
probably received a letter telling you how dense your breasts are. This letter is the product of a new Vermont law that was put into action on January 15
, 2017. The law requires a breast density report to be sent out after every screening mammogram.
About 40-50 percent of women have dense breast tissue. While dense breast tissue is not dangerous, it can make mammograms less accurate for detecting breast cancer. Dense breast tissue is composed of more fibrous and connective tissue than fatty tissue. This fibrous tissue shows up as white on mammograms while fatty tissue shows up as grey. Tumors also show up as white on mammograms. Finding cancer in dense breasts has been described as "finding a polar bear in a snowstorm". A polar bear is easy to spot when surrounded by gray rocks, but harder to locate when surrounded by white.
Knowing that you have dense breasts is half of the battle. It is important to know your breasts, keep an eye out for changes, and continue to have your breasts examined regularly by your primary care provider. There are other screening tools that are available to screen for breast cancer if you have dense breasts or are at high risk for breast cancer. Ultrasounds and MRIs are tools that can be covered by Ladies First.
Knowledge is power. Knowing your breast density can help you make decisions for your breast health. The only way to know if you have dense breasts is to have a mammogram. Mammograms are covered by Ladies First. If you are over the age of 40, talk to your doctor about the best time to start getting regular mammograms.
For more information about breast density, visit www.areyoudense.org.