Breaking News
More () »

Northeast Ohio doctors react to new FDA mammogram guidelines

Mammogram providers will be required to tell women if they have dense breast tissue.

CLEVELAND — A new update from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on mammography standards could save lives. Mammogram providers will be required to tell women if they have dense breast tissue. 

The announcement comes as a push to support prevention, early detection, and breast cancer treatment. The FDA is aiming to strengthen oversight and enforcement of facilities, while helping interpreting physicians better categorize and assess mammograms. 

"There are four classifications of breast density, ranging from replaced almost entirely by fat, to extremely dense," explains Cleveland Clinic's Dr. Holly Pederson. "The sensitivity or the odds of finding breast cancer on a mammogram really depends on the density."

Dr. Pederson is a physician at Cleveland Clinic's Breast Services Center. She sees patients daily at the breast high-risk clinic. Pederson says Ohio has actually been ahead of the change for years now. In 2015, legislation changed in Ohio that mandated all women be notified about their breast density. 

"Women who had dense tissue received different wording on their letters that they received for their mammographic result, so this doesn't effect Ohio all that much because we were already ahead of the curve on this one," she explains.

In the U.S., about half the women age 40 or older have more dense breasts. Just under 298,000 women are expected to be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer this year. 

According to the American Cancer Society, almost 44,000 lives could be lost from the disease, making the new regulation crucial to saving more lives. 

"Women really need to know what their breast density is on their mammogram to know how accurate the test may be for them," advises Dr. Pederson.

The new FDA guidelines should be in place within 18 months, sometime in 2024. In the meantime, only 15 states, including Ohio, currently require insurance to pay for all or part of additional screenings.

Before You Leave, Check This Out