New law in place involving breast cancer screenings

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- A new law requires doctors to tell women if they have a certain type of breast tissue. The law comes into place January first. One doctor says it could help save lives.

"Breast cancers and breast tissues look white. It's the idea of trying to spot the deer in the forest. If there's a lot more trees, it's harder to see the deer."

Iowa City Mercy Hospital Doctor Nelson says that's the challenge in finding cancer in dense breast tissue. Stephanie Miller learned she had breast cancer when she was 27.

"I felt a lump by myself. I was treated with radiation and chemotherapy and surgery," said Miller. "Then my oncologist and primary care doctor had been following up with me after that at my 5-year cancer free mark they noted on my mammogram that I had dense breast tissue."

That led to an MRI, because mammograms don't show breast cancer as easily in women with dense tissue. The MRI found her cancer returned. But they caught it early and she had a mastectomy.

"To potentially find things at a very early stage when things are less of an intense treatment modality, after it has been detected, having that available to people is invaluable," said Miller.

She says this new law is a step in the right direction.

"We're going to have a much higher awareness for women's health issues amongst the practitioners and patients themselves," said Miller.

With this law women will get notified if they have dense breast tissue after a mammogram. That way they can decide with their doctor if an MRI or further tests are necessary to make sure there's no cancer.