April 1, 2019



DC joins 37 states in passing Breast Density Screening and Notification Act to address little known risk factor for breast cancer

Silver Spring, MD – The Brem Foundation is thrilled to announce that the D.C. Council enacted the Breast Density Screening and Notification Act of 2018. This landmark legislation requires that women be informed if they have dense breast tissue, an independent risk factor for breast cancer. The law is unique because it also requires insurance coverage for necessary, additional screenings for women with dense breast tissue.  Importantly, lower-income women will now have access to these lifesaving screenings.  

Washington, D.C. has the highest death rate from breast cancer in the U.S. The Breast Density and Screening Notification Act of 2018 will help reduce those deaths through early detection.  The Brem Foundation and Goldblatt Martin Pozen LLP worked together to pass this legislation, supported by women impacted by dense breast tissue who gave compelling testimony to the D.C. Council.  Health Committee Chairman, Vincent Gray, championed the legislation and views it as a critical step forward for D.C. women, particularly those in underserved communities. D.C. joins 37 other states in passing breast density notification laws.  

“In the District, 28.5 women of 100,000 die of breast cancer every year.  Women with dense tissue need extra screening to catch earlier, more curable breast cancers but they cannot get the screening they need if they are not aware that they have dense tissue in the first place.  That is why I introduced the Breast Density and Screening Notification Act of 2018 which requires health care facilities to include information about breast density in federally required mammography reports.  I am proud of this bill as it will empower our residents to take control of their health care and undoubtedly save lives,” said Councilmember Vincent C. Gray.

What is breast density and why will this law save lives?  Over 40 percent of women in the U.S. have dense breast tissue. This means they have a higher ratio of connective tissue to fatty tissue in their breasts. Dense tissue is not only a risk factor for breast cancer, but having it makes breast cancer harder to find on a mammogram. Women with dense breast tissue need additional screenings, such as ultrasounds. 

“Breast density is a real and strong risk factor for developing breast cancer. This legislation will empower women, save lives, and bring the D.C. community one step closer to a day when D.C. no longer claims the highest death rate from breast cancer. Thank you to all of the heroic survivors, doctors, legislators, advocates, and champions who made this possible” said Andrea Wolf, Executive Director of the Brem Foundation.

Breast Cancer Must-Know Facts:

● 40% of women in the US have dense breasts

  • Women with very dense breasts are 4.7 times more likely to develop breast cancer 

  • Ultrasound finds 24% more cancers in women with dense breast tissue

  • Sensitivity of mammography is 85% in all women but only 47.8%-64.4% in women with dense breast tissue

● 1 in 8 American women will get breast cancer during her lifetime

● Over 95% of women diagnosed with breast cancer in early stages will survive and thrive

● The survival rate drops to about 22% when breast cancer is detected at Stage 4.

● In 2019, over 331,430 Americans are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer, and 41,760 women will likely die from the disease.

About the Brem Foundation

The Brem Foundation maximizes women’s chances of finding more curable breast cancer through expert education about early detection, access to diagnostic tests, and physician training. Dr. Rachel Brem, MD, Director of the Breast Imaging and Intervention Center and the Program Leader for Breast Cancer at the George Washington Cancer Center is the Brem Foundation’s Chief Medical Officer and a founding board member.


Andrea Wolf