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California's new law on dense breast notification: What it means for women

Effective today, radiologists across California will be required by law to notify women when their mammography screening shows they have dense breast tissue. Approximately 50 percent of women have dense breast tissue - more fibrograndular tissue than fatty tissue as seen on a mammogram - so falling into this category is quite normal.

If you're a woman with dense breast tissue, you'll receive a letter in the mail that includes an explanation that this is a risk factor for developing breast cancer and that having such tissue may make it more difficult to detect a tumor. (However, having dense breast tissue is only a small risk factor for developing breast cancer and mammography is still considered the gold standard in breast-cancer screening.)

While this notification is meant to educate women about their own bodies and empower them to make better health-care decisions, it could also result in needlessly alarming or confusing patients. It's important that women understand why they're receiving this information and what they can do about it, which is why Stanford Hospital prepared the video above.

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