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New Colorado Law Requires Reporting of Dense Breast Tissue

By Kathy Walsh

LOUISVILLE, Colo. (CBS4)- According to the Susan G. Komen organization, women with high breast density are four-to-five times more likely to get breast cancer than women with low breast density, but the cancer is more difficult to find. Density wasn't something talked about, until now.

Colorado has a new law that went into effect this month. It requires that women who get a mammogram be told if they have dense breasts.

(credit: CBS)

Colorado is now among 30 states that have this type of law. The hope is that knowing about your breast density may lead to spotting cancer sooner.

"Two years ago, this exact month, I was here," said Jen Willard.

(credit: Jen Willard)

Here is Avista Adventist Hospital. It is where Willard's breast cancer journey began.

"I decided to go in and finally get a mammogram," she told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.

CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh interviews Jen Willard (credit: CBS)

Willard was healthy, 41-years-old, a mother and new bride. Her mammogram was abnormal. More tests followed. But it took an MRI to find a tumor, cancer that never showed up on a mammogram.

"Because of dense breast tissue," explained Willard.

(credit: Jen Willard)

Radiologist Dr. Taj Kattapuram with Centura Health displayed a mammogram of an extremely dense breast. It looked almost completely white.

(credit: CBS)

She explained cancer also shows up white on a mammogram. The cancer is obvious on a fatty breast which appears gray or black. But on a dense breast...

Radiologist Dr. Taj Kattapuram with Centura (credit: CBS)

"White on white it might be easy to miss," said Kattapuram.

She supports a new Colorado law that requires that a mammogram report inform patients if they have dense breast tissue and also tell them that it may be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.

(credit: CBS)

"Patients can have a more informed discussion about potential options," said Kattapurum.

Possible options to pursue if you have dense breasts and concerns include a 3-D mammogram, an ultra sound, and an MRI.

A woman getting a mammogram (credit: CBS)

"I thought that the mammogram would pick up everything," said Willard.

She is thankful her doctors were diligent. She had a double mastectomy, but no chemotherapy or radiation.

(credit: CBS)

"Because they caught it early, I have a better chance at survival," she said.

Willard's breast cancer journey has taken her back to Avista Adventist. She started JWILL Pink Village and donates hand-made, heart-shaped pillows for breast cancer patients after surgery. They come with a message that reads in part "Sending you strength and courage. You're not alone."

(credit: CBS)

Willard would welcome help; her Facebook: and email:

Her Donation Wish List:

  • New or gently used Fabric.
  • At least three yards of fabric works best for maximum use.
  • Cotton or flannel fabric in a variety of colors and patterns make special pillows for breast cancer survivors.
  • 1" Sew-On Velcro
  • Polyfiber Stuffing
  • Cash Donations for supplies
  • Gift Cards to Michaels, Walmart, Hobby Lobby or Joann Fabric
  • More volunteers to help sew.
    DENSE BREASTS 5PKG_frame_2533
    (credit: CBS)

Kathy Walsh is CBS4's Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 for more than 30 years. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.

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