Starting Tuesday, doctors will have to give patients more information when it comes to their mammograms.

Mammograms are one of the main lines of defense when it comes to the fight against breast cancer.  But some factors can make it harder to detect cancer, like dense breast tissue.

To combat that problem,  there's now a new breast density law in Tennessee to try and make sure the cancer isn't missed.

Dr. Jessie Varnell, Mary Ellen Locher Breast Center, "Every woman has some fat tissue and some glandular tissue, but if more than 50 percent of your breast is glandular you are considered to have dense breasts."

Dr. Varnell says 40 percent of women have dense breasts.  "It makes it a little harder to look at your mammogram."

And that can make it harder to catch something early,  which can put women at greater risk for developing late stage breast cancer.

"If you are looking at a stream that's clear you can see something easily, but if you have muddy water it could be harder to find something in there that's not supposed to be there like a malignancy or cancer."

Under this new law, after radiologists notify women about their breast density, they have to then offer them additional screening options.

"The other option is ultrasound on both of their breasts or something called a 3D mammogram called tomosynthesis, which is like a CT scan."

Right now 3D mammography is only available at Memorial Hospitals's Mary Ellen Locher Breast Center.   


While Dr. Varnell says she doesn't want women to become alarmed if they have dense breasts, the more informed they are, the better their chances are of fighting and beating breast cancer.

"So an informed public is more likely to pick up things and insist on other things be done."