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Health Systems Prepare For 'Dense Breast Notification Law'

OPB | Dec. 18, 2013 1:13 p.m. | Updated: Jan. 3, 2014 2:16 p.m. | Portland

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Health systems around Oregon are preparing for the new Dense Breast Notification Law, which goes into effect January 1.

A mammogram of a fatty breast and a dense breast.

A mammogram of a fatty breast and a dense breast.

Picture a breast x-ray. The white strands inside the breast are glandular tissue, while the black parts are fat.

A tumor shows up as a white dot.

But in the 10 percent of women with extremely dense breasts, with lots of glandular tissue, it’s difficult for radiologists to find that white dot.

That’s why Oregon and more than a dozen other states have passed Dense Breast Notification laws, so these women can be notified that they may need extra screening.

Dr. Kari Thomas of Legacy Health says her system is reaching out to women and their doctors.

“Because it can be tough when you’re a primary care doctor to get this letter that says, have this discussion with your patients about something they’re not necessarily familiar with,” she said.

“And likewise we don’t want patients to be unnecessarily alarmed by being told that they have dense breasts.”

Supporters of this notification are working on a federal law to standardize reporting.


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