Today we are pleased to present Dr Lisa Baron, of The Charleston Breast Center as a guest author on this editon of, Ask The Doctor.  See below as Dr. Baron answers a question submitted to our site.

I really need advice.  I recently relocated to Charleston, SC & just saw a new oncologist.  When I lived in CT, my breast surgeon would do an annual digital mammogram & breast ultrasound since I have dense breasts.  I’m pretty sure that my former surgeon had said that there are new guidelines that state that if breasts are dense, a breast ultrasound should be done also.  My new oncologist in SC is only planning on doing an annual digital mammogram. Has anyone heard of these new guidelines stating that a breast ultrasound should be done in addition to a mammogram if breasts are dense?  I also have very cystic breasts with a density of 50-75%.

I think the confusion regarding additional testing with mammography for dense breast tissue centers around the fact that South Carolina and Connecticut handle breast cancer screening differently.  Recently the state of Connecticut enacted laws requiring insurance companies to provide screening ultrasound and/or MRI for those women who have dense breast tissue.  In Connecticut these additional screening tests are to be included in the patient’s screening test benefits and not subjected to any co-pays or out of pocket payments.  In addition, in Connecticut the patient is required to be informed of her breast tissue density and the additional screening tests  available to her (ultrasound, MRI).  However,  the state of South Carolina does not mandate the insurance companies to follow these protocols (or the patient to be informed about her breast density), therefore, you will likely be responsible for any co-pays and deductibles.  You should check with you current insurance carrier to determine how these additional tests will be covered.

 Hope this helps,

 Lisa

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