Singleton, Benson, Johnson, Lampitt, Quijano, Vainieri Huttle Bill Would Require Education & Comprehensive Ultrasound Coverage for Women with Dense Breasts
Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Daniel Benson, Gordon Johnson, Pamela Lampitt, Annette Quijano and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to provide more comprehensive early detection for breast cancer was approved 71-0-8 by the General Assembly on Thursday.
“A mammogram will detect only about 48 percent of tumors in women with dense breast tissue, meaning the rest will elude early detection,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “When it comes to our mothers, wives and daughters, we should be doing everything we can to make sure they have a leg up in the fight against breast cancer.”
“A 2010 national survey found that 95 percent of women ages 40 and older did not know their breast density, and nearly 90 percent did not know that breast density increases the risk of developing breast cancer,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Clearly we need to step up our education and detection efforts.”
The bill (A-2022) would require health insurers to cover comprehensive ultrasound breast screenings if a mammogram demonstrates dense breast tissue and also require mammogram reports to contain information on breast density.
“Density is one of the strongest factors in a mammography screening’s failure to detect cancer,” said Johnson (D-Bergen). “This means we need to make sure that women have access to the tests that work best for them in the fight against breast cancer.”
“Cancer is five times more likely in women with extremely dense breasts,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “That’s a scary statistic, but one that we can easily help combat by making sure women have access to the best medical technology suited to their needs.”
Specifically, the bill would require, that in addition to the existing health benefits coverage requirement for mammograms under state law, health insurers must provide coverage for an ultrasound evaluation, a magnetic resonance imaging scan, a three-dimensional mammography or other additional testing deemed medically necessary by the patient’s health care provider, after a baseline mammogram examination, if the mammogram demonstrates extremely dense breast tissue, if the mammogram is abnormal within any degree of breast density or if the patient has additional risk factors for breast cancer, including but not limited to family history of breast cancer, prior personal history of breast cancer, positive genetic testing, extremely dense breast tissue based on the Breast Imaging Reporting and Data system or other indications as determined by the patient’s health care provider.
“Cancer recurrence is four times more likely in women with dense breasts,” said Quijano (D-Union). “When it comes to this extremely high risk factor, we can’t take a laissez faire approach to preventative treatment. This is a disease that touches nearly everyone’s life in one way or another.
“Two-thirds of pre-menopausal and one fourth of post-menopausal women have dense breast tissue, and many do not even know it,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “This bill incorporates education and advanced preventative treatment to help give women a better chance at early detection and a positive outcome.”
The provisions of the bill would apply to any group or individual medical service corporation contract providing hospital or medical expense benefits.
The bill also requires that a letter explaining the relationship between dense breast tissue and breast cancer in clear terms accompany a mammography report to any patient that receives a mammogram. The state Department of Health would also be required to work with the Medical Society of New Jersey to establish a stakeholder work group to review and report on strategies to improve the dialogue between patients and health care professionals when it comes to breast density and breast imaging options.
The measure now heads back to the Senate for final legislative consideration.