Mercy's Dr. Neil B. Friedman, Director, The Hoffberger Breast Center At Mercy, Discusses Breast Density As A Risk Factor For Breast Cancer

August 19, 2013
Dr. Neil B. Friedman

Dr. Neil B. Friedman, Director, The Hoffberger Breast Center at Mercy

New legislation in Maryland regarding dense breast tissue in women is concerning a local doctor.

Many women have dense breasts, but dense breast tissue can be difficult to screen in a mammogram, making it hard to spot cancer.

The issue is making its way into the Maryland law books. In May 2013, Gov. Martin O'Malley signed Senate Bill 334 requiring mammography providers to notify women who have a certain level of dense breast tissue. The law takes effect Oct. 1 of this year.

According to breast cancer surgeon Dr. Neil B. Friedman, Director, The Hoffberger Breast Center at Mercy, the law may create confusion among patients and doctors.

"The problem is that the measurement of breast density with routine mammography we get now is very inexact. So, the tool is just OK. The other problem is in the interpretation. We need to change the way a mammogram is interpreted so it's more consistent across the board. Right now, it's very inconsistent from one reader to another reader," Dr. Friedman said.

Three years ago, after a routine mammogram, Jennifer Pavolic found out she had dense tissue in her breasts.

"They just told me that my breast tissue was more dense and that it was harder for them to see on mammography," she said.

Dr. Friedman noted that there is currently no good scientific answer about what to do for women like Pavolic.

"If you add the breast density to some other risk factors, then we may consider if they should get MRIs, or if we should add an ultrasound to their screening. But for the average patient, I probably won't do anything differently," Dr. Friedman said.


Dan Collins - Senior Director of Media Relations at Mercy Medical Center

Dan Collins, Senior Director of Media Relations

Email: Office: 410-332-9714 Cell: 410-375-7342

About Mercy

Founded in 1874 in downtown Baltimore by the Sisters of Mercy, Mercy Medical Center is a 183-licensed bed acute care university-affiliated teaching hospital. Mercy has been recognized as a top Maryland hospital by U.S. News & World Report; a Top 100 hospital for Women’s Health & Orthopedics by Healthgrades; is currently A-rated for Hospital Safety (Leapfrog Group), and is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Magnet Hospital. Mercy Medical Center is part of Mercy Health Services (MHS), the parent of Mercy’s primary care and specialty care physician enterprise, known as Mercy Personal Physicians, which employs more than 200 providers with locations in Baltimore, Lutherville, Overlea, Glen Burnie, Columbia and Reisterstown. For more information about Mercy, visit, MDMercyMedia on FacebookTwitter, or call 1-800-MD-Mercy.

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