Women in Michigan now have better access to information on breast cancer screening courtesy of a new law set to take effect on Monday.

According to the state's breast density law, women must be notified in writing whether they have dense breast tissue with their mammogram results. Patients often find it difficult to identify if they are a candidate for cancer as dense breast tissue and cancer tumors appear white on a mammogram.

Advocates of the new law say that it can help the patient know if further tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound, are needed to get a clear diagnosis.

However, several health providers and lawmakers in Michigan have raised concerns about the law's potential effects on the coverage of insurance and the additional time demands it will have on doctors. They also believe the breast density law may cause patients to worry unnecessarily.

"I can't wait to see the first letter that comes after a woman's mammogram that has the paragraph in there that will give her the knowledge that will give her the power to protect herself," Teresa Hendricks-Pitsch, the woman who lobbied for the bill to be passed, said in an interview.

Hendricks-Pitsch, who has been diagnosed with breast cancer herself, believes the breast density law can help save the lives of women by giving them the enough information on their health.

"They all said boy this cancer was really hidden on mammograms from the density, we've never seen something like this before and I thought, how come they all know that and no one tells women that," Hendricks-Pitsch said.

The bill, known as Senate Bill 0879, was approved by the Michigan State Legislature in December of last year. It was signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder in January.

It was sponsored by state senators David Hildenbrand, Mark Jansen, Tonya Schuitmaker, Steven Bieda, Glenn Anderson, Jack Brandenburg, Thomas Casperson, Darwin Booher, Vincent Gregory, Judith Emmons, Morris Hood, Goeffrey Hansen, Rick Jones, Michael Kowall, Roger Kahn, Tupac Hunter, Arlan Meekhof, James Marleau, John Moolenaar, Phillip Pavlov, Mike Nofs, John Pappageorge, Randy Richardville, John Proos, David Robertson, Virgil Smith, Howard Walker, Tory Rocca, Coleman Young and Rebekah Warren.

Michigan joins 20 other states that have adopted laws that raise awareness among women regarding the limitations of mammograms in properly detecting dense breast tissue.

Photo: Army Medicine | Flickr 

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