My FDA Testimony
On September 15, 2016, I attended the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) committee meeting of the National Mammography Quality Assurance Advisory Committee. I gave my own personal testimony about why it is so important that women in every state be given the potentially lifesaving information from mammograms about their breast density.
Your breasts are made up of ducts, lobules, and fatty and fibrous connective tissue. Your breasts can be considered dense if you have a lot of fibrous tissue and not as much fat in the breast.
If you have dense breasts, your fibrous tissue will appear white on a mammogram screen. This is concerning because tumors also appear white on a mammogram, so if you have dense breasts, a mammogram may miss detecting a tumor. Dense breasts is common, not abnormal, and you cannot tell if you have dense breasts by the size of your breasts or how much you weigh. It is important we understand breast density so we know how to make sense of our mammograms. If you have dense breasts, you could require an ancillary test.
On June 5, 2014, I went for my mammogram like I'd done every year. I even got a 3D mammogram that day. After that screening I got a clean bill of health. I then walked across the hall and had an ultrasound and I heard those words none of us ever want to hear, "You have cancer." I have dense breast tissue, so I get both a mammogram and an ultrasound screening, but had I not known I had dense breast tissue or that an ultrasound was recommended for me in addition, I would have only had a mammogram that day and not realized I had an aggressive tumor growing in my breast. This is why I go to Washington, knock on senator's doors, and give testimony to the FDA.
Joan with Senator Chris Murphy, Connecticut
We are making Progress:
The good news is we are making progress. While there is no national standard, more than half of the U.S. states have a law requiring doctors and technicians to provide women with information about their breast density after their mammogram. Vermont passed legislation in May, and is the most recent state to pass such a law.
Looking for a way you can help?
Hear my full testimony in this video: