From Centegra Health System: New Illinois Law Requires Hospitals to Notify Women if They Have Dense Breasts

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Up to 50 Percent of Women in McHenry County May Receive Notification

It is not our intention to alarm women if they receive this notification as we are simply sending letters as required by Illinois law. We encourage women to speak with their doctors about their individual breast cancer risk.

Beginning in January, women who receive mammograms may receive letters of notification from Centegra Health System if they have dense breasts. In accordance with Senate Bill SB2314, a new Illinois law will require hospitals - including Centegra’s facilities - to notify women about breast density.

“About 50 percent of the women we see have dense breast tissue, and it is not abnormal,” said Joanna Rossi, an independent radiologist and director of breast imaging for Centegra Health System. “It can, however, make it harder to find cancer on a mammogram. Dense breast tissue may also increase breast cancer risk. It is not our intention to alarm women if they receive this notification as we are simply sending letters as required by Illinois law. We encourage women to speak with their doctors about their individual breast cancer risk.”

A patient is considered to have dense breasts when a radiologist describes breast tissue as “heterogeneously dense” or “extremely dense.” To address the requirements of the new Illinois law, a woman will receive a letter if her mammogram shows she has dense breasts.

Dense breasts have more fibrous tissue than fatty tissue. This dense tissue appears white on a mammogram. It also can include supporting tissue and ductal tissue. Fatty tissue appears gray on a mammogram. As some women age, their breast tissue becomes less dense and easier to visualize on a mammogram.

Centegra Health System currently offers 3-D mammography called tomosynthesis at the Centegra Gavers Breast Center for women who have dense breasts. This new technology captures multiple images of the breast at different angles to provide a reconstructed 3-D image of the breast. Tomosynthesis allows radiologists to evaluate breast tissue in one-millimeter slices.

Tomosynthesis may increase cancer detection and reduce the number of women who need to come back for repeat mammograms when compared with standard digital mammography. Tomosynthesis can sometimes find evidence of breast cancer that is obscured by overlapping breast tissue. Patients with dense breasts may benefit from tomosynthesis screening.

Centegra offers answers to frequently asked questions about breast density at centegra.org/breastdensity. Patients who have additional questions can also use the web page to communicate with Centegra experts. To schedule a mammogram at a Centegra location, call 815-334-5566.

About Centegra Health System
Centegra Health System is committed to meeting the health care needs of the residents of greater McHenry County and to making services available in multiple and convenient locations, including hospitals in McHenry and Woodstock, Immediate and Physician Care Centers, Centegra Sage Cancer Center, Health Bridge Fitness Centers and the highly anticipated Centegra Hospital-Huntley.

As the region’s leading health care provider, Centegra Health System continues to bring the latest treatments and technology, along with the skills of nearly 4,000 medical professionals, to meet the needs of the growing McHenry County community. For more information on Centegra Health System visit centegra.org, search Centegra Health System on Facebook and Twitter or call 877-CENTEGRA (877-236-8347).

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Kim Kubiak