MRI Scans (like this one, showing a lesion) can measure breast density very… (AP )
Breast density has emerged as an important risk factor for breast cancer along with other factors such as age, family history and some gene mutations. However, there is no consensus on what to do with information on breast density and on Sunday, California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed proposed state legislation that would have required doctors to notify women having mammograms of their breast density.
Having more high-density tissue, which has less fat, raises breast cancer risk, while having more low-density tissue lowers it.
In a letter to the California state Senate, Brown said he agreed that patients need more health information. But he said he was concerned that the information on breast density might create unnecessary anxiety for women and that the wording of the bill went too far astray of just informing consumers.
"It advises that additional screening may be beneficial," Brown wrote. "If the state must mandate a notice about breast density -- and I am not certain it should -- such a notice must be more carefully crafted, with words that educate more than they prescribe."
The proposed legislation, Senate Bill 173, was opposed by several medical groups. Opponents of the bill complained that it was too vague and could lead to additional, unnecessary tests. They argue that there is not yet clarity on what dense breasts actually means.
But others suggest that breast-cancer prevention and diagnostic strategies should be based on a more complete understanding of individual risk factors.
Amy Colton, who led the campaign for breast-density notification, said she was disappointed. "This issue comes down to the basic right of a woman to know her breast density, information that could save her life," Colton wrote in a letter to Brown.
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