June 03, 2016

Vermont Adopts Breast Density Notifications

Vermont Senate Bill 157, an act relating to breast density notification and education, was signed into law by Gov. Peter Shumlin on May 25, 2016.

The law will apply to mammography exams performed on or after Jan. 15, 2017. All health care facilities that perform mammography examinations will be required to provide patients information in the summary of their mammography report that identifies their individual breast tissue classification, based on the Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System established by the American College of Radiology.

If a facility determines that a patient has heterogeneously dense or extremely dense breasts, the summary of the mammography report shall also include a notice “substantially similar” to the following:

“Your mammogram indicates that you have dense breast tissue. Dense breast tissue is a normal finding that is present in about 40 percent of women. Dense breast tissue can make it more difficult to detect cancer on a mammogram and may be associated with a slightly increased risk for breast cancer. This information is provided to raise your awareness of the impact of breast density on cancer detection and to encourage you to discuss this issue, as well as other breast cancer risk factors, with your health care provider as you decide together which screening options may be right for you.”

Mammography facilities have the option to update the language in their notices over time to reflect advances in science and technology as long as they continue to notify patients about the frequency of dense breast tissue and its effect on the accuracy of mammograms and to encourage them to discuss the issue with their health care providers.