Published on the Oct. 23, 2012, Diagnostic Imaging website
By Whitney L.J. Howell
Connecticut launched its law mandating providers alert women if they have dense breasts and offer supplemental ultrasound screenings three years ago. The road has been rocky — radiologists initially resisted it, the density legislation confused many patients, and few women seemed interested in the secondary scans. But new research shows the law has resulted in more cancers found.
Much discussion surrounded Connecticut’s dense breast tissue law when it passed in 2009, requiring referring physicians to inform women with dense breast tissue that they could benefit from supplemental ultrasound screening. A recent study revealed the law had a slow, but effective, start.
In research published in the October issue of Radiology, investigators from Yale University determined less than 20 percent of women with dense breast tissue opted to have an ultrasound screening after receiving abnormal mammogram results. The retrospective review analyzed the ultrasound results for nearly 1,000 women who underwent the procedure.
Although fewer women than anticipated opted for ultrasound screenings after the law took effect, lead study author Regina Hooley, MD, assistant professor of diagnostic radiology, said giving patients the option of supplemental ultrasound screening after a mammogram was useful. Based on data pulled from the legislation’s first year, her team found additional 3.2 cancers per 1,000 women were discovered using ultrasound.
“These findings are right in the ballpark for the amount of cancers we identify with mammogram,” Hooley said. “Although mammography is the only test with data to show it reduces breast cancer-related mortality, it’s clear, with this study, that ultrasound provides an acceptable cancer detection rate at an acceptable cost.”
In January, Texas enacted its own version of the law, known as Henda’s Law. And, the American College of Radiology anticipated 13 additional states introducing some type of similar legislation during 2012.
According to the study’s cost analysis, each cancer identified via ultrasound cost approximately $60,000. That figure equals roughly $200 per patient, Hooley said. It’s also important to note that Connecticut insurance companies are required, under law, to cover these supplemental ultrasound screenings.
Connecticut radiologist Jean Weigert, MD, who serves as treasurer for the Radiological Society of Connecticut, also tracked supplemental ultrasound screenings in her practice. Her results, she said, are exactly the same as Hooley’s.
To read the remainder of the story at its original location: http://www.diagnosticimaging.com/womens-imaging/content/article/113619/2110186