Governor Signs Jaffee Breast Density Bill: Women Get Lifesaving Information

July 23, 2012

Pearl River, NY Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation designed to improve breast cancer detection and prevention by requiring mammography services to inform patients if dense breast tissue is found during an exam.

Assembly Member Ellen Jaffee who sponsored the bill said, "I thank Governor Cuomo, Senator Flanagan, JoAnn Pushkin, and all the courageous advocates who worked so tirelessly to ensure this lifesaving legislation was passed. Now women with dense breast tissue, which can mask tumors making early detection more difficult, will get the information they need to determine, along with their physicians, whether further screening is recommended.

The new law requires mammography providers to include the following notification in the report provided to patients who are found to have dense tissue: "Your mammogram shows that your breast tissue is dense. Dense breast tissue is very common and is not abnormal. However, dense breast tissue can make it harder to find cancer on a mammogram and may also be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. This information about the result of your mammogram is given to you to raise your awareness. Use this information to talk to your doctor about your own risks for breast cancer. At that time, ask your doctor if more screening tests might be useful, based on your risk. A report of your results was sent to your physician."

"Early detection can save lives and this new law will give women who may be at a higher risk for breast cancer the information they need to consult with their physician about follow-up screening and other preventive measures," Governor Cuomo said. "I commend the bill sponsors for their work on this important legislation."

Senator John J. Flanagan, co-sponsor of the bill said, "Simply put, this legislation is about saving lives. Supplied with information about their own breast density, women will now be empowered to discuss additional screening options with their physicians. Many women are unaware that 'breast density' is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer and that dense breast tissue can make it difficult to detect tumors by mammography alone. With the approval of this new law today, women will have better health care information to pursue other screening options to find cancers early; when they are most treatable and survivable. I applaud Governor Cuomo for signing the bill into law, and I thank JoAnn Pushkin for her tireless efforts in advocating on this critically important issue and in helping to make this the most comprehensive breast density inform law in the country."

Currently, there are no requirements in law for patients to be alerted to breast density, one of the leading risk factors for breast cancer in women.

The law takes effect in 180 days.