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Medical News & Perspectives
February 3, 2015

Recent Findings May Inform Breast Density Notification Laws

JAMA. 2015;313(5):452-453. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.17914

A recent study that questions the effectiveness of supplemental breast cancer screening for women with dense breasts could be on a collision course with state laws mandating that women be notified if a mammogram shows they have high breast density.

Experts say that about 40% to 50% of women have dense breast tissue, which has been associated with higher breast cancer risk. Adding ultrasonography to mammography often is suggested because limited data indicate that it can strengthen breast cancer detection rates. Even so, uncertainty has surrounded whether the additional screening improves long-term outcomes and whether it’s cost-effective. But data published late last year show that supplemental ultrasonography produces only small health benefits while it substantially increases costs (Sprague BL et al. Ann Intern Med. doi:10.7326/M14-0692 [published online December 9, 2014]).