MILWAUKEE — October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and there is an effort to help women who have dense breasts receive treatments to effectively detect cancer in its early stages.
Non-dense breast tissue appears dark and transparent on a standard mammogram.
“On dense breasts, the tissue looks white on a mammogram,” Linda Hansen, a retired attorney and patient advocate from Franklin, WI told WTMJ N.O.W. “Breast cancer looks white on a mammogram, so you’re essentially looking for a snowflake on a snowball. You can’t find it. It all blends together,”
Roughly half of women over the age of 40 have dense breast tissue which makes cancer detection through standard mammograms difficult. In addition, women with dense breasts are 4-6 times more likely to get breast cancer than women who don’t.
More than 70% of breast cancers occur in dense breasts, and due to the difficulty of detection, are often only diagnosed after the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
Hansen has been sharing her cancer journey story to raise awareness of early detection of breast cancer and also of new bi-partisan legislation being proposed in Madison to cover the costs of additional diagnostic screenings. While an annual mammogram is covered by insurance, follow-up screenings are typically not.
Supplemental imaging can save lives and can also typically cost a patient between $234 to $1,000, creating a difficult financial choice for some women.
Similar breast imaging legislation has been passed in nearly half of the United States. Studies have been conducted, showing that the approximate increase in an insurance member’s premium would cost less than ten cents per month.
The current status of Senate Bill 121/Assembly Bill 117 is working toward a committee vote in the Senate, then a hearing in the Assembly. For additional information on this effort, visit EarlyDetectionWI.com.