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MGL c.111, s.5Q was amended effective September 24, 2014. This new law states that every provider of mammography services shall, if a patient’s mammogram reveals dense breast tissue, as determined by the interpreting physician based on standards promulgated by the American College of Radiology, provide written notification to the patient, in terms easily understood by a lay person.

Basically, physicians are now required to inform patients if they have dense breast tissue, the degree of that density, and the elevated risk for breast cancer that comes with it. The classification of the tissue will also become a permanent part of the patient’s medical record.

“The notification shall include, at minimum, the following information:

(1)  that the patient’s mammogram shows dense breast tissue;

(2)  that the degree of density apparent and an explanation of that degree of density;

(3)  that dense breast tissue is common and not abnormal but that dense breast tissue may increase the risk of breast cancer;

(4)  that dense breast tissue can make it more difficult to find cancer on a mammogram and that additional testing may be needed for   reliable breast cancer screening;

(5)  that additional screening may be advisable and that the patient should discuss the results of the mammogram with the patient’s  referring physician or primary care physician;

(6)  that the patient has the right to discuss the results of the patient’s mammogram with the interpreting radiologist or the  referring physician;

(7)  that a report of the patient’s mammogram has been sent to the referring physician and will become part of the patient’s medical  record; and

(8)  where the patient can find additional information about dense breast tissue.”

It’s important to know that you have it, and that you may need to take additional steps to ensure early detection of breast cancer, such as an additional MRI. This legislation will also affect radiologists, who will now be required by law to clearly educate the patient about the health risks of dense breast tissue.

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