FDA Takes Action to Improve Breast Cancer Prevention for Women with Dense Breast Tissue

The FDA has announced a major effort to improve breast cancer prevention, requiring mammogram facilities to inform women if they have dense breast tissue.[0] According to the National Cancer Institute, women who have dense breast tissue have a higher risk of getting breast cancer. Women 50 years or older are recommended to get mammograms every other year, while those with a family history of the disease should begin at age 40.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend mammograms every 1–2 years starting at age 40 for those with an average risk of developing breast cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2023, about 297,790 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and some 43,700 will die from the disease.[1]

Roughly half of U.S. women over age 40 have dense breast tissue, and it is composed of more fibro-glandular than fatty tissue. It is difficult to tell the difference between a tumor and dense breast tissue because they both appear white on a mammogram, so a small tumor may be missed.[2] Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the most precise way to screen for breast cancer in people with dense breasts, and ultrasounds are also commonly used.[3]

The FDA’s updates will “strengthen the FDA’s oversight and enforcement” of imaging providers while making it easier for radiologists to categorize and assess mammograms, while also improving patient care and communications.[4] The FDA is aiming to support prevention, early detection, and breast cancer treatment, and providers must implement the new regulations within 18 months.[5]

Supporters of the FDA’s decision say the new standards will save lives by helping women learn about their breast density risks and potentially detect cancer earlier.[5] JoAnn Pushkin, executive director of New York-based DenseBreast-info, said that some states currently tell women they have dense breasts, but nothing more.[5]

It is important for women to understand their risk factors for breast cancer and to get regular screenings. Early detection of the disease is key, and with the FDA’s new regulations, women with dense breast tissue can be better informed and have access to more thorough screenings.[6]

0. “New requirements for mammograms” msnNOW, 9 Mar. 2023, https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/medical/new-requirements-for-mammograms/ar-AA18q714?li=BBnba9O

1. “FDA says mammogram facilities must notify women about dense breasts” WHIO, 10 Mar. 2023, https://www.whio.com/news/trending/fda-says-mammogram-facilities-must-notify-women-about-dense-breasts/PI54H2CRBFHCRJZ2QA2SPTYGNI/

2. “The FDA’s new mammogram guidelines require dense breast disclosure. What does that mean in Pennsylvania?” The Philadelphia Inquirer, 11 Mar. 2023, https://www.inquirer.com/health/fda-new-mammogram-guidelines-dense-breasts-cancer-20230310.html

3. “MRIs May Detect Cancer in Dense Breasts Better Than Mammograms—Should You Get One?” Health.com, 1 Mar. 2023, https://www.health.com/mri-better-at-detecting-cancer-in-dense-breasts-7152405

4. “Northeast Ohio doctors react to new FDA mammogram guidelines” WKYC.com, 10 Mar. 2023, https://www.wkyc.com/article/news/health/northeast-ohio-doctors-react-new-mammogram-guidelines/95-fae62618-fbe1-4d29-b42d-a68f324e8575

5. “FDA sets national mammogram standards to protect women with dense breasts” Texarkana Gazette, 10 Mar. 2023, https://www.texarkanagazette.com/news/2023/mar/09/fda-sets-national-mammogram-standards-to-protect/

6. “New FDA mammogram requirements could help catch breast cancer sooner” WXII12 Winston-Salem, 10 Mar. 2023, https://www.wxii12.com/article/new-fda-mammogram-requirements-could-help-catch-breast-cancer-sooner/43276367

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