Research into the impact of state breast density notification laws can draw inaccurate conclusions if the studies don't take into account variations in language between different states, according to advocacy group DenseBreast-Info.org.
Several recent studies have questioned the impact of density notification laws, which require healthcare providers to notify patients if they have been found to have dense breast tissue. Such tissue can make it more difficult to detect breast cancer with x-ray-based imaging modalities; supplemental imaging with ultrasound or MRI is often recommended in these cases.
But density laws can vary greatly between states in the language they require in notification letters. For example:
- Laws in six states require letters to include only general information about breast density, without informing a patient that she herself has dense breasts.
- Another six states have laws that do not provide unambiguous language about the masking effect of cancers due to dense tissue.
- And 23 states have laws that do not mention "supplemental screening" as a topic for women to discuss with their providers.
DenseBreast-Info.org called for an analysis of the impact of laws that do contain personal density notification information compared with laws that do not require such information or with states that have no notification laws at all. The group also believes that a national reporting standard is needed in order to assure that all U.S. women receive the same minimum threshold of information.