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Pennsylvania adopts new breast cancer bill; Goal is improving detection

By Fritz Mayer
November 6, 2013

HARRISBURG, PA — Gov. Tom Corbett on November 1 signed into law new breast cancer legislation that requires facilities that offer mammograms to notify patients about breast density. The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Bob Mensch, who attended the signing ceremony.

Mensch said, “Dense breast tissue is a relatively common condition, but it can hide abnormalities and complicate early detection of breast cancer. Notification will allow women to know their own breast density. With that information, they can talk to their doctor about what their breast density rating means and whether they are at a higher risk for breast cancer.

“As important as mammograms are, we’ve learned that they are not enough. While 40% of women who get mammograms have dense breast tissue, almost 95% of women are unaware of their own breast density,” Mensch said. “This new law will establish a protocol for informing women. Better communication and better screening can save lives.”

“This is a historic moment for breast cancer survivors in Pennsylvania and the PA Breast Cancer Coalition. This legislation will save lives,” said PA Breast Cancer Coalition president and founder Pat Halpin-Murphy. “I want to thank Governor and Mrs. Corbett for recognizing the importance of the Breast Density Notification Act on the lives of women and families in our state.”

Each day, 32 women in Pennsylvania are diagnosed with breast cancer. Each year, more than 2,000 of those women will lose their lives to the disease. The PA Breast Cancer Coalition’s mission is to help find a cure for breast cancer and to improve the quality of breast cancer education, research, programming and outreach in the state.

Corbett said, “I am proud to sign this bill today to improve breast cancer detection and ensure our daughters, our mothers, our wives, our sisters and our friends have earlier access to lifesaving care.”

Cindy Spinello, a breast cancer survivor from Union County, spoke of how she had regular mammograms and annual examinations, but was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer that had been masked by dense tissue in July 2012.

“I am overjoyed with the governor’s signing of this bill,” Spinello said. “As a late-stage breast cancer patient, I know what a difference early detection can make. Breast density notification will increase early detection and save lives.”