Massachusetts and Hawaii Introduce Breast Density Inform Bills

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Massachusetts and Hawaii are the latest states to have introduced bills in their respective legislatures to mandate that mammography patients be informed about breast density.

Hawaii has a bicameral (a house and senate) state legislature. Its breast density inform bill (H.B. 373) was introduced on January 22nd and passed its third reading there without any opposing votes on March 5. It passed to the Hawaiian senate on March 7. Should it be signed into law, it would go into effect on January 1 of next year.

In Massachusetts, state senators Eileen M. Donoghue, Karen E. Spilka and James B. Eldridge in January introduced a similar bill (S. 1006) that would require any mammography facility licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to provide patients with the following notice upon the completion of their mammogram:

If your mammogram demonstrates that you have dense breast tissue, which could hide abnormalities, and you have other risk factors for breast cancer that have been identified, you might benefit from supplemental screening tests that may be suggested by your ordering physician.

Dense breast tissue, in and of itself is a relatively common condition. Therefore, this information is not provided to cause undue concern but rather to raise your awareness and to promote discussion with your physician regarding the presence of other risk factors, in addition to dense breast tissue. A report of your mammography results will be sent to you and your physician. You should contact your physician if you have any questions or concerns regarding this report.

Other breast density inform laws have put the responsibility for communicating density information on the physician who mails the patient letter with the mammography results. The Massachusetts letter puts the onus on the facility performing the mammogram.