Nancy's Bio


Nancy M. Cappello, Ph.D. is Director and Founder of Are You Dense, Inc., and Are You Dense Advocacy, Inc., with a mission to educate the public about the risks and screening challenges of dense breast tissue to prevent missed, delayed, and advanced-stage cancer, thus reducing mortality. She is the inspiration and architect behind the first-in-the-nation density reporting law passed in Connecticut in 2009, making the state a global leader in density reporting, adjunct screening, and the density reporting grassroots movement. Thirty-six states have enacted density reporting laws, and a federal bill in both the House and Senate was introduced on October 25, 2017. She had led efforts to also standardize the communication of dense breast tissue nationally through changes in the Mammography Quality Standards Act.

Dr. Cappello has presented her inspiring story of patient-turned-advocate across the United States and at Scientific Forums in Rome, Tokyo, Paris, Puerto Rico and Brisbane, Australia.  Her blog, Nancy’s Chalkboard, has been published by the Huffington Post and other media outlets. She is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including being named a Health Hero by Parade Magazine, honored by the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame and received the prestigious national Americanism award by UNICO.

Dr. Cappello holds a B.A. and an M.S. in Elementary and Special Education from Central Connecticut State University, a Sixth Year Degree in Administration and Supervision from Southern Connecticut State University, and a Ph.D. in Education Administration from the University of Connecticut. When her Mission is finished, she looks forward to rescuing a dog, learning Italian, and taking golf lessons.

  • Are You Dense? Fact #1:

    Breast density is one of the strongest predictors of the failure of mammography screening to detect cancer.

  • Are You Dense? Fact #2:

    Two-thirds of pre-menopausal women and 40% of post-menopausal women have dense breast tissue. 

  • Are You Dense? Fact #3:

    Adding more sensitive tests to mammography significantly increase detection of invasive cancers that are small and node negative.

  • Are You Dense? Fact #4:

    American College of Radiology describes women with "Dense Breast Tissue" as having a higher than average risk of Breast Cancer.

  • Are You Dense? Fact #5:

    While a mammogram detects 98% of cancers in women with fatty breasts, it finds only 48% in women with dense breasts.

  • Are You Dense? Fact #6:

    A woman at average risk and a woman at high risk have an EQUAL chance of having their cancer masked by mammogram.

  • Are You Dense? Fact #7:

    Women with dense breasts who had breast cancer have a four times higher risk of recurrence than women with less-dense breasts.

  • Are You Dense? Fact #8:

    A substantial proportion of Breast Cancer can be attributed to high breast density alone.

  • Are You Dense? Fact #9:

    Cancer turns up five times more often in women with extremely dense breasts than those with the most fatty tissue.

  • Are You Dense? Fact #10

    There are too many women who are unaware of their breast density, believe their “Happy Gram” when it reports no significant findings and are at risk of receiving a later stage cancer diagnosis.