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Editorial: Brown’s Veto of Mammogram Disclosure is Outrageous

Thursday, October 13, 2011

San Jose Mercury News

Gov. Jerry Brown probably made more good than bad decisions on various bills this fall. But it was infuriating to see him veto Sen. Joe Simitian’s bill requiring full disclosure to women whose mammograms may be ineffective.

It was so simple, so certain to save lives that we could not imagine a veto. But the medical establishment pulled out all the stops to kill it.

Amy Colton persuaded Simitian to carry the bill after she was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer despite years of supposedly clear mammograms. She learned, too late, that her dense breast tissue obscured the cancer. This condition is noted in reports to doctors but not in reports sent to patients, who develop a false sense of security.

In his veto statement, Brown said women should have the information, but he objected to the notification suggesting women talk to their physicians about further screening. Good grief. If women learn mammograms aren’t effective for them, they’d be crazy not to ask about alternatives.

When the Legislature reconvenes, Simitian should resubmit the bill minus the offending suggestion to consult doctors. The original bill got broad bipartisan support. In the meantime, Colton and Simitian may have saved lives just by airing the issue: All women should ask their doctors about dense breast tissue. And—sorry, governor—about alternative screening.


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