Rochester, NY -- Lorraine Clements was shocked when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had no history of the disease in her family, but she did have dense breasts, which means the tumors aren't as easy to detect on mammograms.
An estimated 40 percent of women have dense breasts--now considered by some studies to be a risk factor for breast cancer.
State Assemblyman Joe Morelle co-sponsored a law that requires doctors and radiologists to disclose information to women about breast density, and if necessary, recommend further testing, like an ultrasound.
Morelle says one of the advocates for the legislation was a man who lost his wife to breast cancer. She had a mammogram and it showed nothing unusual.
But Morelle says, the woman had dense breast tissue, which masked the cancerous tumor, giving the woman a false sense of security that everything was okay.
Morelle says the hope is that with this new law, women will learn more about their risk factors and get the testing they need to detect any problems.
Breast Cancer Survivors like Karen Schuster also think it's a good idea to give patients as much information as possible.
Karen was diagnosed at age 48, and did not have a history of breast cancer in her family.
Dr. Stamatia Desounis is a radiologist at the Elizabeth Wende Breast Clinic. She says mammograms are still the most effective tool in detecting breast cancer, but she says for some women, further testing, like an ultrasound, is needed.
Her only concern is that this law will create more anxiety for women and lead to unncessary testing.
Insurers like Excellus tell 13WHAM News that they follow the laws and doctors recommendations when it comes to deciding whether a test or procedure is covered under insurance plans.
Excellus Spokesman Jim Redmond says the idea is to make sure people get the treatment they need, that is both safe and effective.
He says while not all procedures or tests are covered, patients who feel they need further testing can file an appeal with the Medical Director of the Insurance Company. They can also talk to their primary care physician to get their recommendations.
Morelle says the idea is to provide the best information to patients and open up discussions between them and doctors, so that a diagnosis can be made early and safely.