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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Yale: Study Indicates Breast Density Notification Laws Not Effective for all Women

A new study suggests that state-mandated notifications on mammogram reports intended to inform women of the health risks related to breast density are not worded effectively.

The study, conducted by researchers at Yale and New York University, found that although dense breast notification (DBN) laws did help some women understand they had increased breast density, those women were not more likely to know that breast density is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer or that dense breasts limit the ability of mammograms to detect cancer. The finding was particularly pronounced for women with a high school education or less.

The study appears in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

“We know that women with less education are less likely to receive high-quality breast cancer screening and treatment,” said senior author Dr. Cary Gross, a Yale professor of medicine and public health and member of the Yale Cancer Center. “Our study underscores one potential mechanism for this disparity. Ensuring that notifications are written in simple language may help improve understanding of breast density for all women.”

Thirty-eight states have enacted DBN laws. Critics of the laws have raised concerns that they might increase women’s anxiety about getting breast cancer. There have also been concerns about the readability of language used in the notifications. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently announced a proposal to extend DBN requirements to all mammogram facilities.

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