On Monday, Senator Roger Bedford (D-Russellville) joined Governor Robert Bentley when he signed into law the Breast Cancer Patient Education Act, which will go into effect August 1, 2013. Bedford, who is a cancer survivor, sponsored the bill with hopes that it will have a positive impact on those diagnosed with breast cancer in the state of Alabama and also save lives through education.
“After my wife, Maudie, recently battled breast cancer, it became a top priority of mine to sponsor legislation to educate breast cancer patients about all of their options when it comes to treatment and medical decisions,” said Bedford. “Hopefully, this legislation will not only allow Alabamians to make improved medical decisions and receive better care, but also, save lives in the process.”
The law contains two main components that are important for citizens to understand. First, the law requires the Alabama Department of Public Health to develop and distribute to patients a standardized, written summary to explain methods of treating breast cancer, options for reconstruction, and the availability of insurance coverage for such treatments.
Second, the law requires a physician issuing the report of the mammography to notify patients if their breast tissue is dense. Women with denser breasts have a higher risk of breast cancer compared to women of the same age without dense tissue, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dense breast tissue makes it more difficult for tumors to be detected in X-rays.Upon signing the law, Alabama became the 9th state with Breast Density Inform legislation, which means that 36% of American women now live in states where they will be informed about this material medical finding about themselves.
“Up to 40 percent of all women have the kind of tissue that makes conventional breast cancer screening less effective due to dense tissue,” continued Bedford. “Thanks to my bill, women with dense tissue are required by law to be notified so that they can be informed about alternative screening methods that could allow for the earlier detection of cancer. I am proud that the Governor recognized the importance of this legislation and signed it into law for our citizens.”
Senator Roger Bedford is a Democrat from Russellville. He has served in the Alabama State Senate since 1982. He is a twenty-four year cancer survivor of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.