One of the important variable characteristics in the overall accuracy of mammography is breast tissue density. The density of breast tissue is derived from the ratio of fatty tissue to glandular (dense) tissue and varies greatly from women to women and sometimes year to year. The fact that dense breast tissue lowers the accuracy of mammograms has been recognized for many years. Aging, hormonal changes, weight gain and loss and a number of other factors can result in a change in breast density over time.
In 2011 the Texas Legislature passed a law, House Bill 2012 (also known as Henda’s Law), which requires mammography providers to notify their patients with dense breast tissue that their mammogram may be less accurate than that of women with lower breast density. In the mammography results letter that you receive following your visit, there will be a new dense breast statement required by law, along with data regarding your breast density. The law’s intent is to make women with dense breast tissue aware that in addition to their annual mammogram, they may benefit from “supplemental screening” such as breast ultrasound or MRI, especially if the women has additional risk factors for breast cancer.
[h2_with_line]AWH’s Policy on Supplemental Screening[/h2_with_line]
It is an important element of our policy that all AWH patients confer with their physician when considering supplemental screening. Our goal is to provide information to our patients regarding the potential benefits and risks associated with supplemental screenings to facilitate appropriate decision-making. Please note that with supplemental screening, there is always the possibility of incidental benign finding which may require biopsy or additional follow-up imaging studies.
Supplemental screening modalities
AWH recommends breast ultrasounds performed by experienced sonographers and breast radiologist as the primary supplemental screening modality. In some instances of exceptional risk, we may recommend MRI examinations alone or in conjunction with the breast ultrasound.
Any woman may schedule a breast ultrasound for dense breasts with an order from her doctor. It is likely that many insurances plans will cover the costs of a breast ultrasound for women with dense breast tissue, but unlike screening mammography, the procedure will likely apply to your deductible and will require an “order” from your doctor. Ultrasounds for dense breast can be scheduled by calling one of our appointment secretaries. They will schedule you at an imaging center that has experienced radiologist and sonographers performing the exam. You will be required to provide a copy of your last mammogram at the time the ultrasound is performed. To schedule a mammogram or breast ultrasound, please call 214-238-7888.