On September 22, 2012, Governor Brown signed into law SB 1538, a bill which will require more detailed and specific information to be provided after a patient has a mammogram.
For women who have dense breast tissue, a relatively common occurrence, mammogram results can often be inconclusive. This law requires doctors to notify their patients when their mammogram shows that they have dense breast tissue and therefore should utilize additional methods (ultrasound, etc.) to more accurately determine their potential for breast cancer.
Some states have proposed or passed similar laws, led mainly by the support of women who had normal mammogram results for years but then discovered they had advanced-stage breast cancer which had been undetected due to their dense breast tissue. Women who have dense breast tissue must be made aware of that fact, and that additional tests or screenings will allow for more accurate diagnoses.
Thanks to Governor Brown and the California State Legislature, women in California will be notified in the event that they have a mammogram and are found to have dense breast tissue. The law goes into effect April 1, 2013, and the notice sent to women will read as follows:
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.