Today, the California State Assembly Business and Professions Committee unanimously approved a bill that would require health care providers to inform women who undergo mammograms about their breast density.
The bill (S.B. 173) had already passed the California state senate and will likely pass the assembly later this year.
Breast density information is part of mammography reports, but primary care physicians rarely share this information with their patients, say supporters of S.B.173, which was introduced by state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto. The bill, if passed and signed into law, would require doctors to inform patients about their breast density results.
Similar laws were passed in Connecticut in 2009 and in Texas earlier this month. California would be the third and largest state to pass such a law.
Denser breast tissue has been associated with higher breast cancer risk and can make detecting breast cancer in its early stages more difficult. However, while on the surface giving patients more information about their health seems like a good idea, some doctors urge caution.
They point out that the science on breast density and cancer risk is still far from conclusive and making reporting mandatory may therefore be premature. In some cases, the law could frighten patients who need not be concerned and give false reassurance to others, they point out.