Bay Area Legislator Looks To Improve Breast Cancer Detection

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PALO ALTO (KCBS) – State Senator Joe Simitian of Palo Alto is reintroducing a bill that would improve breast cancer detection in women with dense tissue.

He said that the legislation is important because dense breast tissue reads white on a mammogram, as does cancer and other abnormalities, which can lead to potential problems being overlooked.

KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:

“Senate Bill 1538, the bill I am introducing again this year, does one very simple thing,” Simitian said. “It provides a two sentence notice to women who have had mammograms, but have dense breast tissue — that they have dense breast tissue and that can block a good, clean reading in a mammogram.”

Simitian said it’s an issue he never thought he’d be working on but a constituent, who’s a nurse, told him she had mammograms every year for seven years, only to be told she had cancer that went undetected because of her dense tissue.

“If patients have this information, they’ll be empowered to have a good conversation with their doctor and figure out what if anything else might be done,” he said. “Lives will be saved but we have to give the patients the information they need to make informed choices about their own health care.”

Simitian introduced a similar bill last year which had strong bipartisan support, but was ultimately vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown.

He said language in the two sentences that concerned the governor has been changed and if signed this fall, the law would take effect next April.

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