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Law helps breast cancer detection

Published January 31. 2014 05:00PM

A new Pennsylvania law that was designed to improve breast cancer detection and prevention will go into effect Saturday.

Senate Bill 358, known as the Breast Density Notification Act, was sponsored by state Sen. Bob Mensch, (R-24), and signed into law by Gov. Tom Corbett this past November.

The bill now requires any medical providers who offer mammograms to provide patients with information about the density of their breasts and what options are available for proper screening. The goal of the new law, which was supported by the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition, is to educate women about dense breast tissue and how it could inhibit proper early detection of abnormalities in the breast during mammograms and increases the risk of a late-stage breast cancer diagnosis in many women.

According to the National Cancer Institute, women with dense breasts are two to six times more likely to develop breast cancer than those who do not have dense tissue.

"As important as mammograms are, we've learned that they are not enough. While 40 percent of women who get mammograms have dense breast tissue, almost 95 percent of women are unaware of their own breast density," Mensch said. "This new law will establish a protocol for informing women. Better communication and better screening can save lives."

Following a mammogram, patients will receive a letter that includes the results of the mammogram, and now information on the denseness of their breast tissue and what that means for the woman.

Local co-sponsors for the bill included state Sens. Lisa Boscola (Lehigh/Monroe/ Northampton), John Yudichak (Carbon), Lisa Baker (Monroe), Pat Browne (Lehigh).

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