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Politics & Government

Breast Cancer Legislation Illustrates Tension Between State Lawmakers, Doctors

With October being breast cancer awareness month, state lawmakers have queued up a couple proposals they think address problems in treatment.

But pushback from the medical profession shows a long-observed tension between doctors and the state lawmakers who try to regulate them, over and above the state’s Health Department.

A proposal before the House and Senate would require that women who undergo mammograms be told by radiology facilities if they have dense breasts.

But it would only add to women’s anxiety without improving their medical care, said Dr. Sherry Blumenthal, chair of the local chapter of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

"We think it’s important for us but we do not think that this adds to the medical care of the patient because it is not helpful," she said.

Blumenthal said as much as 70 percent of women have dense breasts, but many don’t know what that means.

Blumenthal said she’s asking the House to amend the proposal so that any breast density alert comes with more information.

For example, she says – that higher breast density is common, may confer higher risk of breast cancer, and the patient go to her doctor with any questions.