DES MOINES, Iowa — Breast cancer awareness activists in Iowa are asking lawmakers to pass a bill this year that would require medical facilities to notify women after a mammogram if they have dense breast tissue.
The Iowa Army of Pink advocated for a similar bill last year, and saw success in the state Senate. The bill did not make it out of a House subcommittee but the activists are hoping to have better luck this year.
Dense breast tissue can make it more difficult for a mammography screening to detect a cancerous tumor, according to the group. That means a mammogram report could indicate a woman is healthy, when something cancerous is actually there. Currently in Iowa, mammogram reports aren’t required to include information on breast tissue density. One activist says knowing if you have dense breast tissue could save your life.
“We have a number of survivors with us here today – myself included – with dense breast tissue, where cancer wasn’t detected on a mammogram,” Sharon Hornsberger said. “What ends up happening is, it results in a later stage diagnosis, and the treatment and the options as available are not as great as when caught early.”
Hornsberger says the only way to know is if your doctor tells you, and that’s why her group is pushing for a state law requiring them to do so.
“It can only be determined by a radiologist looking at a mammogram, so a woman cannot feel it or see it on herself,” she said. “However, it only gets disclosed currently in the report that goes to the referring physician. So, many women have dense breast tissue but aren’t even aware.”
The Iowa Army of Pink tried to get this bill passed last year. It made it through the Senate, but didn’t clear a subcommittee in the House of Representatives. Activists with the group hope the issue gets more attention this session.