New California Breast Density Inform Law to Impact Coachella Valley Women April 1

  • Approximately 50 percent of women to start receiving notification they have dense breast tissue after a screening mammogram.
  • Breastlink Rancho Mirage to work with referring physicians and the community to explain the law’s impact.

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif., March 29, 2013 – Breastlink Rancho Mirage, a facility operated by a wholly-owned subsidiary of RadNet, Inc., a national leader in providing high-quality, cost-effective diagnostic imaging services through a network of owned and operated outpatient imaging centers, announced the importance of educating referring physicians and women about the California Breast Density Notification Law that will take effect on April 1, 2013. The law requires doctors to inform women, classified as having dense breast tissue on a screening mammogram, that dense breast tissue may make it more difficult to detect potentially cancerous lesions in their screening mammogram.

California will join Connecticut, New York, Texas and Virginia with a breast density notification law. Radiologists classify breast density into one of four types using the BI-RADS (American College of Radiology Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System) scoring methodology.

  • Fatty (10 percent of women)
  • Scattered fibroglandular densities (40 percent of women)
  • Heterogeneously dense (40 percent of women)
  • Extremely dense (10 percent of women)

“Breastlink of Rancho Mirage and the Breast Care Center of the Desert completed more than 14,000 screening mammograms in 2012,” said David Conston, M.D., director of breast imaging at Breastlink of Rancho Mirage and the Breast Care Center of the Desert. “We have the experience and knowledge to educate the community about this new law. However, as the topic of breast density remains controversial, it’s important for women to speak with their doctors to ensure they receive care appropriate for them.”

Patients classified with either heterogeneously or extremely dense breast tissue will receive a letter with the following lay summary:

Your mammogram shows that your breast tissue is dense. Dense breast tissue is common and is not abnormal. However, dense breast tissue can make it harder to evaluate the results of your mammogram and may also be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.

This information about the results of your mammogram is given to you to raise your awareness and to inform your conversations with your doctor. Together, you can decide which screening options are right for you. A report of your results was sent to your physician.

“A womans breast density is largely inherited but may vary over time due to age, hormones, diet or selective estrogen receptor modulators (e.g. tamoxifen),” said Janet Ihde, M.D., surgical oncologist at Breastlink of Rancho Mirage. “Dense breast tissue may make it more difficult to detect potentially cancerous lesions in their screening mammography imaging study.”

A review of the radiology literature shows that breast MRI is an extremely sensitive (success rate) imaging modality in the detection of breast cancer tumor(s). Breast MRI has the highest sensitivity of all imaging modalities. However, breast MRI has a lower specificity (proportion of false positives) and may create false positives that will cause some women to undergo biopsies with benign results.

Breast MRI studies entail additional time, cost and worry and may not be covered by insurance. It is important for referring physicians and patients to check insurance plans for coverage of additional studies. Physicians must weigh the risks and benefits for each patient’s specific situation to determine the best option.

About Breastlink

Breastlink is a network of comprehensive breast health centers offering full-service breast cancer treatment from initial screenings to the successful completion of treatment. Breastlink has a multidisciplinary team of oncologists, surgeons, radiologists, psychotherapists, researchers and patient advocates on staff to address the needs of breast cancer patients. For more information about breast density and breast cancer please visit our breast density page.