Trident Health System
November 02, 2016

North Charleston, SC - Radiologist John McGue, MD is the lead interpreting physician at Trident Breast Care Center. He says women with dense breast tissue should be encouraged by the news that South Carolina has joined other states in requiring physicians to inform women who have dense breast tissue that additional screening may be helpful in detecting breast cancer.

“About forty percent of women have dense breasts, which is itself a risk factor for breast cancer. In fact, dense breasts can be up to six times more likely to develop breast cancer. Dense breasts make it harder for mammogram to detect breast cancer,” explained Dr. McGue. “Now, women with dense breasts are informed after their mammogram that additional testing is available. At Trident Breast Care Center we have the technology to screen for breast cancer in dense breast tissue. ” Trident Medical Center is recognized as a Center of Excellence by both the American College of Radiology and the National Quality Measures for Breast Centers.

Radiologists at Trident Breast Care Center use Automated Breast Ultrasound (ABUS), which can find up to 30% more cancers in women who have dense breast tissue. A routine ABUS exam takes about 15 minutes Trident Breast Care Center is the only imaging center in the area to provide automated breast ultrasound.

“Screening mammogram is still the first step to detect breast cancer,” explained Dr. McGue with Charleston Radiologists, PA. “After a woman with dense breasts has a screening mammogram we will inform her that additional testing may be helpful. The new law does not replace the screening mammogram.”

The law, C339, which was signed by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley on May 13, 2106, requires a “conspicuous notice” when the mammogram shows the presence of dense breast tissue. It states, “A mammography report must be provided to a patient by the mammogram provider, and this report must include information about breast density based on the requirements of the Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System established by the American College of Radiology. Where applicable, this report must include:

  1. A notice in conspicuous language which states: 'Your mammogram shows that your breast tissue is dense. Dense tissue is common and is not abnormal. However, dense breast tissue can make it harder to evaluate the results of your mammogram and also may be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. This information about the results of your mammogram is given to you to raise your awareness and to inform your conversations with your doctor. Together, you can decide which screening options are right for you. A report of your results was sent to your physician.'; and
  2. Consumer or patient information available from the American College of Radiology about breast density and mammogram reports."

The law was first introduced to the South Carolina Senate on January 15, 2015 and the House on March 17, 2015. It was passed by the General Assembly on April 26, 2016 and signed by Governor Nikki Haley on May 12, 2016.

The law is often referred to as Hope’s Law; named after former South Carolina legislator Hope Gelting, who passed away on June 21, 2014.