Are You Dense?

By Bonnie Rush

July 2013—AHRA has joined the ranks of groups supporting the Are You Dense Advocacy, Inc. in its effort to advance standardized breast density notification and expansion of insurance coverage for supplementary screening. AHRA’s decision to join in this national effort was officially announced on April 8th and is their first advocacy focus.

This decision was promoted by AHRA 2012-13 President Carlos Vasquez, RT(R),CRA,FAHRA,FACHE after the membership indicated a desire to participate in advocacy as part of their commitment to the field of imaging. The selection of this initial cause is based on the urgency needed in identifying cancers at an earlier stage for approximately 40% of our screening population. This is due to the unfortunate fact that cancer and dense tissue have almost the same x-ray attenuation factor, effectively masking the cancer and leading to later stage cancer diagnosis, with personal and economical ramifications.

On July 30, 2013, Dr. Nancy M. Cappello, Executive Director & Founder of Are You Dense, Inc., and Are You Dense Advocacy, Inc. will be introduced to the membership by Carlos Vasquez at the AHRA Annual Meeting during the general session at 9:45 AM.  At that time it will also be formally announced that I am the official AHRA advocacy liaison to this organization.

I am also pleased to share that Dr. Cappello will co-present at my talk, “The Dense Breast Tissue Issue: Notification and Early Detection Program Development” on Tuesday from 2:00-3:30PM. This topic is one that I have presented before, but this time it will offer updated information and the addition of Nancy’s story and her passion. She will discuss the successes of her outreach efforts as well as offer advocacy tips to the attendees to promote future successes.

Having advocated for earlier detection by digital mammography and believing in the greater capabilities for detection by tomosynthesis, I personally experienced the disappointment of a delayed diagnosis with negative results from both modalities. Unfortunately this was due to my 8 mm cancer being masked in an area with only dense tissue and no fat. Fortunately, a diagnostic breast ultrasound was ultimately the tool that saved me from a later stage diagnosis.

As a result, I have now turned my focus to exploring, educating, and advocating for notification and appropriate supplementary imaging for women with masking dense breast tissue. At the same time I will work to find the avenues to advocate for insurance reimbursement at a level commiserate with the utilization of ancillary imaging. I am very proud to have been appointed to this volunteer position and look forward to providing you with further updates on our advocacy efforts with Are You Dense Advocacy, Inc.