Springfield, IL… State Representative Michael McAuliffe (R-Chicago) unanimously advanced legislation to require women to be informed if they have an increased risk of breast cancer or if they need to seek additional tests.
Statistics suggest that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Around half of women have dense breast tissue, which makes the cancer much more difficult to detect. According to the Mayo Clinic, nondense breast tissue appears dark and transparent on a mammogram while dense breast tissue appears as a solid white area, which makes it difficult to see through. Cancer tumors also appear white. Often a mammography alone, the gold standard for breast cancer screening, can miss cancer diagnoses; as often as one third of the time. Dense breast tissue also raises a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.
“Breast cancer is a leading cause of death among women and the earlier the detection, the better the odds of survival,” Rep. McAuliffe said. “Many women don’t know that they have dense breast tissue and that they need more than the standard mammography test.”
A few years ago Illinois passed legislation that stated that if women have dense breast tissue they may be afforded an ultrasound covered by insurance. House Bill 4392 will serve as an educational enhancement to that mandate. It requires mammography providers to notify women who have dense breast tissue and inform them of the implications so that they can go to a doctor and discuss supplemental tests and breast imaging tools that may be necessary for a proper diagnosis.
HB 4392 passed the House Human Services Committee today on a 12-0 vote. Along with Rep. McAuliffe the committee heard testimony from Dr. Georgia Spear, Chief of Mammography at NorthShore University HealthSystem, and Bridget Pargulski and Patricia Beyer, two women who received breast cancer diagnoses after inaccurately clean mammograms.
The bill now heads to the floor for a full House vote. Similar legislation is in the Senate sponsored by Senator John Mulroe (D-Chicago).