STATE COLLEGE, CENTRE COUNTY - Women in Pennsylvania are now receiving more detailed information about their mammograms.
A new state law that recently took effect requires that women receive findings about the density of their breasts.
For many women having dense breasts can make the tests more difficult for doctors to read and some studies suggest it also increases the risk of breast cancer.
Dr. Jacob Alexander, the Medical Director of the Breast Care Center at Mount Nittany Health, says, "it's almost a double whammy. It's more difficult to detect breast cancers in those women and at the same time those women have an increased risk for breast cancer."
Dr Alexander says dense breasts aren't abnormal and the condition tends to diminsh as a woman ages.
"But we do see women in their 70's and 80's with dense breast and there is some genteic predisposiiton," he adds.
Now, after a mammogram all Pennsyvalnia women recieve two letters, one telling them whether it was benign or cancerous, the second, classifying their breast density on a scale of one to four, with three and four being the most dense. Before the new law, only their doctor got the complete report.
According to Dr. Alexander, "knowing what we know now, I think it's a good idea to give women as much information as possible, because of the possible implications, to allow them to make better informed decisions."
Sometimes women with dense breasts do need more testing, such as another mammogram or an ultrasound scan, but that's something they can decide with the help of their doctor.