New law aiming to detect breast cancer early - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

New law aiming to detect breast cancer early

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Women in Iowa say there's new hope in the fight against breast cancer. A bill signed into law by Governor Branstad now requires providers to tell women who receive mammograms if they have dense breasts, which could detect breast cancer early on. 

Kellie Leasure, a stage four breast cancer survivor says this can mean life or death for women in Iowa.

"Breast cancer was the furthest thing, from my mind, at that time of my life," said Leasure. "I went through chemotherapy, the whole nine yards, radiation, double mastectomy."

While she was pregnant with her daughter Chelsea, Leasure went in to see her doctor after her gut was telling her it was more than the pregnancy making her sick. 

"I had a little bit of a lump, but they said it was nothing to worry about," said Leasure. 

A year later, Leasure was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. 

"I trusted the radiology reports," said Leasure. "I mean I was doing my job as the patient going in, getting my mammograms."

A key piece of information missing was her breast density-what Leasure says would have been the difference in detecting her breast cancer early on. Research shows women with dense breasts have a higher rate of cancer. 

"When I was pregnant, had I known that the dense breasts were that much of an issue, I think I would've pushed for an ultrasound during pregnancy but I was told my different doctors not to worry about it," said Leasure. "So as the patient, it's like you listen to your doctors."

Since then, Leasure has been advocating for breast density, even going to the capitol. 

Senate File 250 signed into law by Governor Branstad now requires providers to tell women if they have dense breasts. 

"The bottom line is this was so avoidable," said Leasure. "Whether you're 18 or whether you're 60, check yourself regularly. If something changes go see your doctor immediately don't wait. And if that doctor doesn't take you seriously go to a different doctor because your life is worth a lot."

Leasure says it's a moment she's looked forward to-helping other women in the fight against breast cancer. 

"Everyone was afraid that it would scare women, but I think as a woman, and I'm speaking for a lot of women that I've talked to across our state, I'd rather have that little bit of fear, for a short period of time, than to find out I have metastatic breast cancer with a limited life expectancy," said Leasure. 

Despite the law, Leasure stresses it's up to each woman to advocate their health for themselves. 

"The law right now just shows yes you have dense breasts," said Leasure. "But it's really up to the patient to read the report, number one, and talk to their doctor about additional testing."

Starting January 1st,  every woman in Iowa will know their breast density following a mammogram. Iowa joins more than twenty states with a similar law. 

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