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, Mercy Medical Center is a university-affiliated medical facility named one of the top 100 hospitals in the U.S. by Thomson-Reuters with a national reputation for women’s health. Mercy is home to the nationally acclaimed Weinberg Center for Women’s Health and Medicine as well as the $400+ million, 20-story Mary Catherine Bunting Center. For more information visit Mercy online at, Facebook, Twitter or call 1-800-MD-MERCY.

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