Supports breast density information

COURTESY TO THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMarch 18, 2014 

Senate Bill 6050 on breast density notification is dead for this year. It didn't get a hearing in the House thanks, I believe, to politics and Washington State Medical Association lobbyists. Forty percent of women have dense breast tissue and 95 percent of women don't know their tissue density. The information is in the mammography report to your doctor, not in your mammogram letter. Mammograms only detect cancer in 48 percent of women with dense breast tissue because both tumors and dense tissue are white on a mammogram. Supplementing a mammogram with an ultrasound increases the detection rate at least 30 percent. Dense breast tissue is a well-established predictor of breast cancer risk. SB6050 would have informed women in their mammogram letter if they have dense breast tissue so they could then decide with their doctor which screening options were right for them. I believe withholding that information from women is unethical and immoral. Washington women should have equal access to an early diagnosis when most cancers are treatable and have better survival outcomes. Fourteen states already have such laws and nine states are working on bills. The opposition says women would be scared and anxious if given that information. They ignore all the research about breast density being a risk factor for the development of breast cancer. Too many Washington women's lives are at risk.

Kathleen Vielhaber

Bellingham

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