(NBC News) – Almost half of women have what are considered dense breasts, which can make it more difficult to detect cancer.
The breast is high in fibrous and glandular tissue that appears white on mammography.
“Like trying to find a snowball in a blizzard, easily missed and overlooked…How many women have been falling through the cracks?” said Joann Puskin, who has been diagnosed with cancer.
She continued, “The letter I got after my mammogram simply said normal negative no evidence of cancer…There was not one word about breast density.”
Dense breasts are also associated with a four times higher risk of developing breast cancer.
So now, the Federal Drug Administration is mandating a new nationwide standard for notifying women of their breast density.
“We know that women with dense breasts have an increased higher risk of breast cancer…today’s announcement by the FDA really ensures that people are given this information in standard language across the board,” said Dr. Elizabeth Comen.
Women with dense breasts are encouraged to talk to their doctors and ask if they need additional screening like an ultrasound or MRI.
The FDA standards won’t take effect until 2024. Meanwhile, only 15 states currently require insurance to pay for all or part of additional screening.
So Congress will soon reconsider the Find It Early Act to ensure all health insurance plans cover mammograms and additional screening.
“When we find cancer matters…cancer is found at an early stage have a 99% five year survival rate,” said Puskin.