March 22, 2012
AUGUSTA – A resolve that would better inform women about the density of their breast tissue in an effort to prevent missed cancer diagnoses gained near unanimous support from the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee.
“If women have dense breast tissue which can impede a mammogram from finding abnormalities, it’s common sense to share that information with them,” said Rep. Terry Hayes, D-Buckfield, the sponsor of the bill. “I’m glad to see we are one step closer to better educating women about this critical health issue.”
Mammograms can miss early signs of breast cancer in women with dense breast tissue. According to the national breast density advocacy group “Are You Dense?” 40 percent of women have dense breasts and women with dense breasts are four to five times more likely to develop breast cancer than women with low breast density, according to breast cancer foundation, Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
The resolve directs the Department of Health and Human Services to review and report on strategies to improve the dialogue between patients and physicians regarding breast density and breast imaging options. DHHS will form a work group in coordination with the Maine Medical Association and other interested parties including the Maine Osteopathic Association, the Maine Radiological Society, the Density Education National Survivors’ Efforts (DENSE), the Maine Breast Nurse Network, Spectrum Medical Group, Breast Cancer Coalition, Maine Cancer Foundation, American Cancer Society and Susan G. Komen.
The work group will review breast imaging standards and breast imaging results protocol. In addition, they will recommend strategies to improve the dialogue between patients and physicians regarding breast density and breast imaging options and will report back to the HHS Committee by Jan. 15, 2013.
Hayes introduced the legislation after hearing a personal story from a constituent, Barbara Deschenes of Norway, whose tumor was masked by dense breast tissue.
The committee voted 11-1 in support of the bill with Sen. Nichi Farnham, R-Bangor casting the only dissenting vote. The bill now faces votes by the full House and Senate.
Jodi Quintero [Hayes], 287-1488, c. 841-6279