WASHINGTON — All American women who have mammograms will soon receive information about their breast density, which can sometimes make cancer harder to detect.
New requirements, finalized Thursday by the Food and Drug Administration, aim to standardize the information given to millions of women following scans to detect breast cancer. Regulators first proposed the changes in 2019 and healthcare providers will have 18 months to comply with the policy.
Some states already require women to receive breast density information.
About half of women over 40 have dense breasts, with less fatty tissue and more connective and glandular tissue. This tissue appears white on X-rays, the same color as breast growths, making mammograms harder to read. Dense breast tissue is one of the factors that can increase a woman’s risk of developing cancer.
Under the new rules, women with dense breasts will receive a written note warning them that their status “makes it harder to find breast cancer”. These patients will also be asked to speak with their doctor about their results.
Professional guidelines do not specify next steps for women identified with dense breasts, but some doctors may recommend additional forms of scanning, including ultrasound or MRI.
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