In 2009, Connecticut became the first state to pass legislation requiring that women who have dense breasts be informed that dense breast tissue may make it harder for radiologists to see images of existing tumors on mammograms. By early 2014, 13 additional states passed similar laws and more are considering their passage.

Erin Marcus, M.D., an internist and faculty member at University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, is currently studying ways to make that communication about dense breast tissue more understandable to patients. At the 2014 Dialogue for Action: Right-Sizing Cancer Screening, Dr. Marcus will speak on “How to Share Information about ‘Dense Breasts’ with Patients Who Have Been Screened for Breast Cancer.”

Photo credit: Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Miami Health System

Photo credit: Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Miami Health System

Dr. Marcus’ research in health communications about breast cancer screening provides ample evidence for how challenging it is to share health information clearly and effectively with patients. Her research shows that mammography reports with words like ‘benign’ or ‘probably benign’ are not easily understood, and that patients who receive letters that call them back for more imaging after routine screening mammograms may not know how common such letters are, nor how most call backs do not result in diagnoses of breast cancer.

A former journalist, Dr. Marcus was trained in internal medicine at the University of Massachusetts and did her residency in internal medicine at Georgetown University.

The 2014 Dialogue for Action: Right-Sizing Cancer Screening will be held on March 20 – 21, 2014 (with March 19 as a pre-conference day), at the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel. Learn more about the conference, view the agenda and register. Follow us on Twitter @PreventCancer and use #Dialogue2014 whenever you tweet about the conference.