Iowa Bill Becomes Law, A Veto, and a Law That's Not Dense


Governor Branstad signs SF250 today making Iowa the 31st state to report dense breast tissue to the patient though the mammography report.  


The Iowa Army of Pink, a patient advocacy group, advocated for the bill and was side by side with the Governor at the bill signing.  Bridget Lumma Pargulski, a breast cancer survivor, who had a missed, delayed and advanced stage 3C breast cancer, relentlessly led the density reporting efforts through five legislative sessions. 


The Iowa law requires the Department of Health to adopt rules effective January 1, 2018 to include information on the reporting of dense breast tissue in the mammography reporting results.


This is the third bill that was signed into law in the last week as Iowa joins Colorado and Kentucky as the latest density reporting state.  Nebraska has one more step before heading to the Governor.


Last week, we were extremely disappointed that Governor Martinez of New Mexico vetoed its density reporting bill, despite unanimous support from both chambers.  We will continue to advocate with the legislature until the bill becomes law.


The Governor of Mississippi also signed a bill into law as the Mississippi Department of Health is tasked with the development of regulations to determine the contents of the patient's mammography report.  While the bill passed the Senate with explicit language concerning the reporting of dense breast tissue, the bill was stripped of those provisions as it left the House chamber.  Are You Dense Advocacy, Inc. will continue to monitor the progress of the MS Department's action as it relates to breast density reporting.


Connecticut was the first state to enact a density reporting law in 2009, inspired by Nancy M. Cappello, Ph.D., after her advanced stage 3c breast cancer, metastasized to 13 lymph nodes, was discovered within weeks of her 11th normal mammogram. It was at this time that the impact of her dense breast tissue and its challenges to detect cancer by mammogram alone was revealed to her by her team of doctors. 


Dr. Cappello is the founder and director of two breast health non profit organizations, Are You Dense Inc. and Are You Dense Advocacy, Inc.  


Thirty-One Density Reporting States:

Connecticut (2009), Texas (2011), Virginia, New York, California (2012), Tennessee, Hawaii, Maryland, Alabama, Nevada, Oregon, North Carolina, Pennsylvania (2013), Ohio, Missouri, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Arizona, New Jersey (2014) Louisiana, Delaware, North Dakota, Michigan (2015), Indiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Vermont (2016) Colorado, Kentucky, Iowa (2017) 



Governor Branstad signs Patty's Law as Bridget Pargulski, Patient Advocate, whose stage 3 cancer upon detection was also missed on mammogram because of dense breast tissue, stands with Patty Bernard, who has metastatic stage 4 breast cancer.  Patty did not know she had dense breasts and that her mammography was limited in detecting cancer and believes an ultrasound could have detected her cancer before it advanced (From Iowa Public Radio)


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  • 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 1/4 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:

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

  • Are You Dense? Fact #5:

    While a mammogram detects 98% of cancers in women with fatty breasts, it finds only 48% in women with the densest 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:

    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.