February 15, 2013

SPAC Celebrates New Laws

By Bena Vohra, Sr. SPAC Delegate

Each legislative session, California SPAC delegates review and analyze bills related to health, education, violence prevention, and family support issues. During the 2012 legislative session, delegates focused their advocacy efforts in support of 35 bills, one ballot initiative, and one sponsored bill.  The legislative session ran from January 1 to August 31 this year.  At the close of the session, 19 SPAC supported bills were chaptered into law!  Most laws took effect on January 1, 2013, unless otherwise specified in the bill’s language.

Bill Highlight - SB 1538: Comprehensive Breast Tissue Screening

Local State Senator Joe Simitian (Palo Alto) championed legislation to improve breast cancer detection in women with dense breast tissue, an issue near and dear to members of our League.

Under federal law, a radiologist performing a mammogram must send a report to the referring physician that includes information about the patient’s breast density.  In addition, federal law requires that the radiologist write the patient to inform her of the results of her mammogram.  Women with dense breast tissue are at a four to six times greater risk of developing breast cancer when compared to women of the same age and health.

Signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in September, SB 1538 requires that following a mammogram, women with dense breast tissue be informed of the following:

• That they have dense breast tissue;
• That dense breast tissue can make it harder to evaluate the results of a mammogram;
• That it is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer;
• That information about breast density is given to discuss with their doctor; and
• That a range of screening options are available.

An estimated 40 percent of women who have mammograms have dense breast tissue. Because dense breast tissue appears white on a mammogram, and cancer also appears white, it can be difficult to see the cancer.

Senator Simitian commented, “This bill is about a patient’s right to know. Patients with dense breast tissue need to know that it can hide a cancer, and that additional screening options are available. Early detection is the key.”

The bill makes California just the fifth state with a breast density notification law (following Connecticut, Texas, Virginia and New York.) SB 1538 will take effect April 1, 2013.

For more information about dense breast tissue, visit http://www.areyoudense.org

To see a full list of SPAC supported bills which passed, see the Junior Leagues of California SPAC website.  http://californiaspac.org/

2012-2013 California SPAC Delegation 

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