By Elspeth Mizner
The FDA recently updated its mammogram regulations, requiring providers to inform women if they have dense breasts. This information could save lives.
It can be scary moment when a woman learns she a breast cancer. But a new regulation from the FDA could help spot the cancer earlier.
Dr. Wendie Berg, a Diagnostic Radiologist at UPMC Magee Women’s Hospital in Pittsburgh said, “So I like the rule of 40. Start screening by 40. 40% of women have dense breasts. 40% of cancers are missed in dense breast tissue.”
According to Dr. Berg, having dense breasts can increase your risks of cancer. But, by informing women if they have one of the forms of dense tissue or no dense tissue can save their life. There are four kinds of dense tissues; fatty, scattered, heterogeneously, and extremely dense.
As Dr. Berg explained, “I myself had breast cancer that was found early only because I knew enough to seek additional screening with an MRI and I really want everyone to have that chance to advocate for herself and if she wants to seek additional screening and could benefit from it to be able to have that so that her cancer can also be found early if it’s there.”
This new regulation can help women all over the country. However this won’t effect women in our state. “Pennsylvania actually had a state law since 2014 requiring that we tell a woman her actual dense category in the results letter from every mammogram report. But this will make a uniform standard for all women in the United States. Until this new rule, there’s been a patchwork quilt of different laws and different rules in different states. So some women may be told that there is an issue with breast density, but they may not be told that they themselves have dense breasts”, said Dr. Berg.
A bit more information that can increase women’s breast cancer survival rates. This won’t start taking effect until September 2024. At that point it will require all facilities to tell a women if she has dense breasts or not as well as provide information for supplemental screenings if cancer missed on mammogram.
Dr. Berg has more information about breast density through her website, for more information, click here.