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Women's Health Homepage

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South Dakota's government (Capital
building pictured here) is requiring
that all women be notified of their breast
density following mammograms

South Dakota passes breast density law

par John R. Fischer , Staff Reporter
South Dakota has joined a number of other U.S. states in requiring its healthcare providers to inform women about the state of their breast density with the enactment of a new law.

Signed by Governor Kristi Noem on March 5, the legislation is set to go into effect on July 1, 2019 and will require all women who undergo mammograms to be notified of the density of their breast tissue. The bill behind the law was introduced by South Dakota State Representative Taffy Howard.

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"I want to commend South Dakota Representative Taffy Howard for her efforts to ensure that all women in South Dakota receive critical information about their breast health and personal breast density," JoAnn Pushkin, executive director of DenseBreast-info.org, told HCB News. "It is extremely gratifying that my testimony in support of the South Dakota legislation played a part in making South Dakota the 37th state to require some level of notification about breast density after a woman's mammogram."

Approximately 40 percent of women, aged 40 and over, have dense breast tissue that may obscure the detection of tumors from mammography machines. Women with extremely dense tissue are also four to six times more likely to develop breast cancer than those with the lowest level of density.

In addition to informing patients about their tissue density, the bill requires that those with one of the two highest levels of density be provided more information about their options for cancer detection and encouraged to discuss their results with their primary care physicians, to evaluate their needs for supplemental screening options.

The enactment of the law follows the passage last month of federal legislation requiring the FDA to develop effective reporting language for relaying breast density status and ensuring mammography reports delivered to patients and providers contain appropriate information about breast density.

"In regard to the recently passed federal law, I believe our law will meet those standards in all points, so we will not need to make any adjustments going forward," Howard told HCB News. "This is a great step forward in ensuring women have the information necessary to make decisions regarding their own breast health and I'm glad South Dakota saw the need and took action."

The time for when such demands will go into effect is still unknown, but will trigger individual state law reviews once implemented.

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