Proud to have sponsored the legislation that made this possible. S-792/A-2022 requires insurers to cover breast evaluations and other additional medically necessary testing under certain circumstances and requires certain mammogram reports to contain information on breast density. - Assemblyman Troy Singleton
Beginning today, all women who have mammograms will get a follow-up letter telling them they may have dense breasts and to raise the topic with their doctors.
New Jersey joins 14 other states in enacting a law ordering radiologists to raise the issue of breast density — which can make tumors harder to spot — in their patient reports.
The law also orders insurance companies to boost coverage for ultrasound screenings, which can turn up cancers that mammograms miss.
Dense breasts contain a greater portion of connective tissue and a smaller amount of fat. Fat shows up as black on a mammogram, offering a good contrast to tumors, which show up as white. Connective tissue, however, also shows up as white, providing a camouflage for cancer.
In addition, recent research has determined that dense breasts are their own risk factor for cancer.
Two of the women instrumental in the passage of New Jersey’s law have remarkably similar stories.
Nancy Cappello of Connecticut had mammograms every year. Six weeks after her 2003 test, her gynecologist felt a lump at her regular checkup. A second mammogram turned up nothing, but an ultrasound revealed a tumor more than an inch in size that had moved to 13 lymph nodes.
When she tried to find out why mammography had failed, her doctor said she had dense breasts — something she’d never been told.
Outraged, she pushed for legislation to change the wording of what she calls the “happygram,” the letter most women get after a clean mammogram. Connecticut became the first state to enact a law ordering radiology facilities to inform women about breast density.
A variation of the same story happened to Laurie Scofield of Wayne: She found a lump that her doctor said was probably a cyst, given that it didn’t show up on a mammogram. A year later, when it became uncomfortable, she had an ultrasound in preparation for having the “cyst” aspirated. It turned up as Stage 3 cancer.
She subsequently founded Dense New Jersey.
Scofield acknowledges that notification wording in New Jersey’s breast density law is vague. It tells all women they “may” have dense breasts, even though the radiology facility sending the letter already knows each woman’s specific density rating.