Searching the medical journals, I uncovered a myriad of studies that first shocked me and later compelled me to bring this critical breast health information to women; since the medical and cancer community had failed to do so and had no plans to routinely tell women about their breast tissue composition.
What do women need to know about dense breast tissue?
These scientific facts that I read of in 2004 were researched in the literature for more than a decade (I call it the best-kept secret):
Forty percent of women have dense breast tissue
Mammography misses every other cancer in dense breasts
Dense breast tissue is a well-established risk factor for cancer
Adding ultrasound or MRI to mammography for women with dense breast tissue will significantly detect cancer that is occult (not seen) on mammography. These cancers are invasive and the great majority is small and at an early stage.
We estimate, based on scientific studies and Connecticut data, that 45,000 women each year receive their “happy gram” report of their mammogram which states “normal” yet have hidden invasive cancer that will continue to lurk in their dense tissue and, once palpable, all chances of an early cancer diagnosis have vanished.
There is no requirement that doctors speak to women about dense breast tissue even though it predicts the accuracy of a mammogram at any age.
Tell me about your organization, Are You Dense, Inc.
Armed with knowledge and the decades of science about the risks and screening challenges of dense breast tissue, I began working with the Connecticut Legislature and in 2005 we passed the first bill in the nation to require insurance companies to cover whole breast ultrasound as an added screening to mammography for women with dense breast tissue.