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New Law Could Mean More Early Detection Of Breast Cancer In California

A new state law that took effect Monday is intended to increase the early detection of breast cancer in California.

The new law affects women with “dense breast tissue,” which makes cancer harder to spot on a mammogram.

Former State Senator Joe Simitian wrote the bill. The Democrat says 40 percent of California women who get mammograms have dense tissue and most don’t know it. He says under the new law, that will change.

24-year-old Nakita Garcia is already in her third round of chemotherapy. She was diagnosed with the most aggressive form of breast cancer when she was 22.
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Above: 24-year-old Nakita Garcia is already in her third round of chemotherapy. She was diagnosed with the most aggressive form of breast cancer when she was 22.

Aired 4/2/13 on KPBS News.

A new state law that took effect Monday is intended to increase the early detection of breast cancer in California.

“You’ll get a notice that says you have dense breast tissue. It’ll tell you that that can make it harder for a mammogram to be read, that it increases your risk of breast cancer, that you probably ought to have a conversation with your doctor and that there are other screening options,” Simitian said.

Simitian expects the law to save the state money, as cancers caught early cost far less to treat than those caught late. He said the idea for the law came from a constituent whose cancer wasn’t caught early despite regular mammograms. California is the fourth state to adopt the requirement.

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