Doctors Oppose Bill To Notify Women of Dense Breast Tissue Condition
Many California physicians oppose a bill (SB 173), by Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), that would require mammogram providers to tell women if they have a condition known as extremely dense breast tissue that could make detecting breast cancer more difficult, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The Legislature passed the bill earlier this month. Gov Jerry Brown (D) has not indicated whether he will sign the measure (Kumar, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 9/15).
Background on Issue
Dense breast tissue appears light on X-ray mammogram images, as do tumors, and it could prevent mammograms from detecting cancer cells.
NIH has said that extremely dense breast tissue can be one of the strongest risk factors for cancer.
If SB 173 passes, California would be the third state -- after Connecticut and Texas -- to require physicians to notify women that they have the dense breast tissue condition (California Healthline, 9/7).
Many physicians are concerned that providing patients with notification that they have the condition would cause unwarranted anxiety and lead to costly and unnecessary ultrasound or MRI tests.
Karen Lindfors -- a professor of radiology and chief of breast imaging at UC-Davis Medical Center -- said that those screenings could cost the state more than $1 billion and that women might not be able to afford the tests.
The California Medical Association has said there is not enough evidence showing that greater spending on screenings saves more lives.
The association supports a public education campaign in place of requiring physicians to notify patients about the condition (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 9/15).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.