Simitian revives 'Breast Cancer Detection' bill

Local legislator tries again to institute a new notification requirement for women with dense breast tissue

After seeing his first effort thwarted by a governor's veto, state Sen. Joe Simitian on Wednesday reintroduced a bill requiring women who undergo mammograms to be informed if they have dense breast tissue.

The legislation, Senate Bill 1538, was inspired by one of Simitian's constituents as part of the senator's annual "There Ought to be a Law" contest. Amy Colton, a nurse and a cancer survivor from Santa Cruz, said she was never informed about the fact that she has dense breast tissue during mammograms and only discovered this after completing her treatment from breast cancer, according to a statement from Simitian's office.

"No one should have to go through what I did unnecessarily," Colton said in the statement.

"Women have the right to know about the risk factors they face and the limits of mammography."

The bill would require women with dense breast tissue to be informed after mammograms that dense breast tissue can obscure abnormalities such as cancer on a mammogram. They would also be notified that they "may wish to discuss the potential value of additional screening(s) with their doctors."

"This two-sentence notice enables women to be effective advocates for their own health," Simitian said in a statement. "These are two sentences that can save lives."

Though Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a similar proposal last year, Simitian said he was encouraged by events since then, including Virginia's adoption of a similar law. Connecticut had adopted a notification requirement a year earlier. Simitian pointed to studies that showed Connecticut detection rates for breast cancer going up by 100 percent for women with dense breast tissue since the law was adopted.

Simitian, D-Palo Alto, said he is reintroducing the bill and, at the same time, talking with Brown's office to "see whether there is a path forward on which he and the Legislature can agree.

"While I was disappointed in the governor's veto, I was encouraged that his primary concern appears to have been the precise language of the proposed notice," Simitian said. "Looking ahead, I'm hopeful we can find common ground.

"Based on the latest findings in Connecticut, I am even more convinced it's a life saver."


Like this comment
Posted by Todd
a resident of Shoreline West
on Mar 30, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Todd is a registered user.

Why does Simitian feel the need to insert himself into the relationship between a doctor and her patient? There are plenty of folks in Virginia who think "There Ought to be a Law" about trans-vaginal ultrasounds, too.

Like this comment
Posted by kman
a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 30, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Not sure why there should be a law for this, this should be part of the examination. Are hospitals that stupid that they won't do this? It's a no brainer. What is the hospitals take on this?

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