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FDA requires all cancer facilities to send breast density report to patients

According to the CDC, 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer in her life

MACON, Ga. — Surgical oncologist Dr. Paul Dale at Atrium Health Navicent says since the mammograms creation, breast cancer deaths have gone down. 

Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, made some updates to their regulations. The goal is to help physicians better assess mammograms. 

The new requirement will have mammogram facilities notify patients about the density of their breast tissue. 

Breast density "reflects the amount of fibrous and glandular tissue in a woman’s breasts compared with the amount of fatty tissue in the breasts." 

According to the CDC, women with more dense breasts have a high chance of getting breast cancer. Dr. Dale says the x-ray machine has a difficult time looking at the dense tissue.

"High density or high risk, you should discuss with your primary care doctor. Whoever ordered that mammogram, and going over it with them can say whether or not you might have to increase or have an additional test done," Dr.Dale said.

Under Georgia law, doctors are already required to send a letter to patients about their breast density level. All mammogram facilities have 18 months to comply with the new federal law.

Samantha Jones, from Perry, was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2018. She says she saw a lump and went to the doctor immediately. 

At 31-years-old, she didn't know it was possible to get diagnosed that early. Jones received care at Piedmont Macon and told 13WMAZ she was glad went to the doctor when something was wrong. 

"I'm very much all about early detection, and also just knowing your body and anything on the ordinary, just making sure that you do advocate for yourself," Jones said. 

Dr. Dale says when mammogram machines were first created, they were detecting cancer on a 2D scale. With new technology, it makes detection easier. 

"Nowadays we actually have 3D mammography where they actually able to look at your breast in a 3-dimensional fashion so, therefore, were even finding cancers smaller and earlier," Dr. Dale said.

Breast density is part of the breast that makes milk. Dr. Dale says this is why women who are in their 20s aren't required to get tested. 

"70-year-olds, most of those ladies are already beyond having babies and no longer producing milk therefore have less dense tissue," Dr. Dale said. 

With support from family and friends, Jones was able to push through, go through treatment, and have a double mastectomy in September 2018. 

Now, she's almost 5 years cancer free. She says every woman should self-exam and know the signs no matter their age. 

Here are some resources if you or someone you know has breast cancer or want to learn more.

1. United in Pink

2. Georgia CORE

3. National Breast Cancer Foundation

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