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Density Law Ensures Women Know Their Breast Type

Many states are adopting a law to inform women whether they have dense breasts.

Mammograms allow doctors to take photographs of women's breasts and detect any abnormalities. However, mammograms may not find cancer in certain breast types. Women with dense breasts have more connective tissue than fat, which appears on the mammogram as the same color as cancer. The connective tissue essentially hides the cancerous cells. Now many states have either adopted or are considering a bill that requires doctors to tell women whether they have dense breasts.

The law is important because women can't tell their breast density without the proper medical assessment. The size, shape or feel of a woman's breast does not indicate density. A radiologist has to examine mammogram X-rays to determine how dense a woman's breasts are. However, women's breasts tend to lose density as they age because their bodies produce less estrogen and progesterone.

While the breast density law does require doctors to tell patients whether their breasts are dense, it does not always lead women to get the education they need. Women who have dense breasts should consider alternative health screenings, such as MRIs and ultrasounds, as mammograms may miss cancerous cells.

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