Skip to content

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                    
August 6, 2012

For More Information, Contact:
Lisa Gardiner (916) 651-4011 .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Phil Yost (650) 688-6834 .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)



SACRAMENTO – Are you dense? Ask your doctor.

That’s the tagline State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) will be using this week to raise awareness among Californians about dense breast tissue, a common yet little-known condition that increases the risk for developing breast cancer and makes it more difficult to detect cancer on a mammogram.

Simitian is the author of Senate Joint Resolution 27 declaring August 8 “Are You Dense? Day” in California. In honor of the day, Simitian, who is chair of the Select Committee on Breast Cancer Awareness and Detection, is:

  • Hosting a free luncheon from noon-1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 8 in the basement of the State Capitol. The luncheon will include a presentation on breast density by Dr. Nancy Cappello, President and Founder of Are You Dense, Inc. Members of the Capitol community, including press, are invited to attend;

  • Placing educational posters about breast density outside Governor Jerry Brown’s office in the State Capitol and in the State Capitol rotunda this week;

  • Distributing educational materials on dense breast tissue to members of the Capitol community, and as a fun way to emphasize the message, M & M’s that say “Are you dense?  Ask your doctor”;

  • Passing out laminated cards with questions for women to ask their doctors about their breast density after receiving their mammogram results;

  • Presenting SJR 27 on the Senate floor at 9 a.m. on Thursday, August 9.

“All of this is designed to raise awareness about something not enough women know about and should know about – their breast density,” said Simitian. “I want to spread the word that when it comes to your health, ignorance is not bliss. What you don’t know can hurt you. Women should be having this critical conversation about breast density with their doctors to find out their risk factors and what additional screening methods, if any, might benefit them.”

“’Are You Dense? Day’ sends a message to all women that they need to be informed if they are going to be effective advocates for their own health,” said Dr. Judy Dean, M.D., a board-certified radiologist. “One of the most important facts to know is, ‘Am I dense?’ ”

Forty percent of women who get mammograms have dense breast tissue, but most women do not know what their density level is.  Radiologists already assess breast density every time they read a mammogram, and it’s included in the report sent to the referring physician.  This information is rarely communicated to the patient herself, however.

Simitian is also the author of Senate Bill 1538, currently in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, which would require that women be informed about their breast density following a mammogram and encourages women to discuss the value of additional screenings with their doctor. Despite broad bipartisan support, a similar bill was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown last year.

Since the veto, New York and Virginia have joined the roster of states with breast density notification laws.

One of Simitian’s constituents, Amy Colton of Santa Cruz, a registered nurse and cancer survivor, suggested the original bill in Simitian’s annual “There Oughta Be a Law” contest. Colton was never informed of her breast density during years of routine mammograms, and only discovered that she had dense breasts after completion of her treatment for breast cancer.

“The message of ‘Are You Dense? Day’ is that women should have regular mammograms, and when they do, they should ask their doctor about their breast density and then discuss whether, based on their risk factors, additional screening might benefit them,” said Colton, who will be at the State Capitol on Wednesday for “Are You Dense? Day” activities. “Learning about your breast density is a crucial piece of information that could save your life.”

For more information, visit