The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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February 26, 2014

Missouri House passes mammogram bill

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri House passed legislation Wednesday that would require doctors to inform women of dense breast tissue after mammograms.

The bill, backed by Patty Richard — wife of state Sen. Ron Richard, R-Joplin — passed the House 146-6.

“(The bill) requires that certified mammogram facilities, upon completion of a mammogram, provide patients a notice stating that if they have dense breast tissue and other risk factors, they may benefit from supplemental screenings,” said Rep. Sue Allen, R-St. Louis, the bill’s House sponsor.

High breast density means a woman has a greater amount of breast and connective tissue compared with fat. Often as women age, their breasts become more fatty and less dense. But in some older women, their breasts remain dense — making it harder for a doctor to interpret a mammogram because the dense tissue shows up as white, the same color as potential tumors.

“I’m very happy about that,” said Patty Richard after the vote. “It is wonderful. We have almost full support in the House as we did in the Senate.”

Allen, who said she lost a friend four years ago because of cancer that was not detected because of dense breast tissue, said the bill would “not create unnecessary screenings. It is all about information to women to know that dense breast tissue is an important factor.”

Rep. Bill Lant, R-Pineville, whose wife, Jane, was on hand to see the bill passed, said there is nothing worse for a man than hearing from his wife that she has found lumps on her breasts that she thinks might be cancer.

“If this bill will keep just one woman from going through that ordeal, it is well worth our time,” Lant said.

The bill was supported by the entirety of the Joplin area delegation. Some other lawmakers had privately expressed some concern that the bill might put a new burden on radiologists, requiring them to include density information on the mammogram report. Patty Richard said she did not see it that way.

“This is a notice that’s given to women so they know about some risk factors that they may have, and then they can go to the doctor and talk about it,” she said. “I don’t see it as a burden on doctors at all.”

A Senate version of the bill was passed earlier this month. Richard said she hopes the bill moves out of the Legislature and onto Gov. Jay Nixon’s desk soon.

Effective date

IF ENACTED, the requirement would go into effect in January 2015.

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