New Indiana law affects women with high breast density

| June 17, 2013

FORT WAYNE—Indiana will soon be among a handful of states that require clinicians to inform women of whether their breasts are dense when they get their mammogram results.

Women with denser breasts—those containing more connective tissue than fatty tissue—have a higher risk of breast cancer compared to women of the same age without dense tissue, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That is because dense tissue is an independent risk for breast cancer, and dense breast tissue makes it harder for breast cancer to be seen on mammography due to masking by the dense tissue.

A new law goes into effect July 1 that requires facilities that perform mammography exams to notify a patient who has high breast density and who may need follow-up care or testing.

Breasts range on a spectrum from very fatty to very dense and all are normal.  The National Cancer Institute estimates that over 50 percent of women undergoing mammography have dense breasts. The texture of the breast to the touch is not a reliable predictor of breast density; it can only be detected with a mammogram. Furthermore, as women age, the proportion of dense tissue gradually decreases and fatty tissue increases.

The law requires that most health insurance sold in Indiana cover appropriate medical tests and screenings, such as ultrasounds or MRI, for women age 40 or older with high breast density. Also, the medical licensing board must establish an education program for women with high breast density along with standards for annual screenings for this group of women.

Dr. William Petty, Medical Director at Breast Diagnostic Center in Fort Wayne, said, “This legislation is a step forward for Indiana women by educating them about their breast health and improving access to care.”

Breast Diagnostic Center Director Marita Dwight-Smith commented, “We will be available to educate and help women understand the new law.”

For more information, contact Marita Dwight-Smith, Director, Breast Diagnostic Center, or 260-672-6567.

Breast Diagnostic Center, a joint venture between Fort Wayne Radiology and Parkview Health, began operations in 1985. It delivers mammography, stereotactic breast biopsy, breast ultrasound and ultrasound-guided breast biopsy to its patients. The center operates Selenia Full Field Digital Mammography units and R2 Image Checkers. The American College of Radiology identifies the Breast Diagnostic Center as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence. There are two locations in Fort Wayne: 2110 Carew St., 260-373-8232; and 11123 Parkview Plaza Drive, 260-672-6530. Visit



Category: Health

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Frost Illustrated is Fort Wayne's oldest weekly newspaper. Your Independent Voice in the Community, featuring news & views of African Americans since 1968.

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