Colorado radiologist helps change the state's breast density law

A new state law in Colorado requires radiologists to include patients' breast density in mammography results letters, thanks to the research and advocacy of Centura Health radiologist and legislative chair for the Colorado Radiological Society Taj Kattapuram, MD.  

Senate Bill 17-142 in the Colorado General Assembly, introduced by Sen. Angela Williams and Rep. Jessie Danielson, officially took effect on Oct. 1 in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, having Colorado join 29 other states in the U.S. that require radiologists to notify women of their breast density.  

According to an article by the Longmont Times-Call in Longmont, Colorado, Kattapuram was asked to research and testify on the bill.  

Her research supported her claim that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Mammography Quality and Standards Act offers little to no guidance on what radiologists should tell their patients regarding mammograms, further supporting her decision to testify for the bill.  

"Basically, it told all radiologists nationally that they need to send a letter to their patients with their mammography results, period," Kattapuram told the Longmont Times-Call. "Other than negative or calling the patient back for findings, it didn't specify what had to be in the letter." 

Breast density is an important factor in giving women a fuller picture of their mammogram screening results. The level of a women's breast is inarguably vital in determining how often a woman decides to get a mammogram or, if desired, to take further actions towards her own breast health.  

"What is great about this breast density bill is that it is championed by patient groups and not physicians or hospital groups. Patients want to know. It's a victory for them to have a bigger role in their medical care. When that was explained to me why they want it, I was fully supportive," Kattapuram said.  

Although the breast density bill has been in effect for four weeks, Colorado currently does not require all health insurance plans to cover 3D mammograms, according to the article, putting many Colorado women at a crossroads in deciding whether to pay the price for a more thorough examination.