A new bill has been approved by the New York legislature which would require women to be notified in mammography reports if they have dense breast tissue, a common condition that makes it harder to diagnose breast cancer. Under the proposed legislation, the mammography reports would suggest to women with dense breast tissue that they speak with their physician about additional screenings, such as ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The proposed bill is currently in the hands of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is reviewing it.

Earlier this year, the FDA approved 3-D breast tomosynthesis (known as 3-D mammography). “I think it’ll help us with patients that have dense breast tissue,” said Kristin Byrne, chief of breast imaging for New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital, to the LA Times at the time of the approval. She speculated that 3-D imaging for breast cancer screening eventually will become standard.

ZPR radiologists routinely comment on the density of patients’ breasts in reports and suggest additional imaging studies where appropriate. “Mammography is currently the gold standard screening test for detection of breast cancer, and has been shown to reduce the number of deaths due to breast cancer,” said Rebecca Obedian, M.D., of Zwanger-Pesiri Radiology. “However, mammograms do not detect all breast cancers. Many studies have shown that supplementing mammography with an ultrasound (and in some cases with a breast MRI) can help to detect small breast cancers. This is especially helpful in patients with dense breasts. Making patients aware of their density status allows them to discuss further testing options with their physicians.”