Illinois does not have such a law, but Beyer knew she, like her sister, has dense breast tissue because a radiologist mentioned it to her in 2007. “They called me the next day and I had three mammograms, which were all normal,” Beyer said. Fortunately, Beyer’s cancer was small (measuring less than 1 centimeter in size) and detected early.
“I was very sad about getting breast cancer, but it’s hard for me to complain at all because I was able to choose a lumpectomy and my cancer survival [rate] is very good because it was caught at an early stage,” she said.
(He is alive and well, by the way.) But Beyer’s cancer wasn’t found on a mammogram.
Instead, it was detected by an automated breast ultrasound, a test Beyer requested at the behest of her sister, who lives in California, where state law requires that women who have dense breast tissue are notified if it is detected and alerted that it might increase their risk of breast cancer.
There is also no consensus within the scientific community on the relationship between breast density and cancer risk,” ISMS wrote in a 2014 report to its members.
“Furthermore, there is no reliable method for assessing breast density, and no clinical guidelines that recommend additional screening solely on the basis of high breast density.” Guidelines from the ACS or American College of Radiology do not address supplemental mammography screenings with ultrasound as of yet, Spear said.
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An ultrasound revealed she had invasive cancer that had spread to 13 lymph nodes. And my doctors said in a nonchalant manner, ‘Nancy, you have dense breast tissue.
It’s hard to see cancer in dense tissue.’” How Dense Breast Tissue Masks Cancer Breast density is classified by radiologists into four categories, ranging from all fatty tissue to extremely dense with very little fat, according to the American Cancer Society.
But in 2014, the ISMS voiced its opposition to legislation that would have mandated mammography reports sent to patients include information stating dense breast tissue makes it more difficult to identify cancer and may be associated with an increased risk of cancer.