HEALTH

Breast density to be included in mammogram results across B.C.

The information is crucial in proactively reducing the risk of breast cancer, doctors say

B.C. women will now receive an additional crucial insight following a screening mammogram to help reduce their risk of breast cancer.

Starting mid-October, BC Cancer’s breast screening program will now include breast density information with all mammogram results sent to women and their care providers.

The change, announced Friday by Health Minister Adrian Dix, means women will no longer have to request the information themselves. B.C. is the first province in the country to offer this information upfront.

“Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women in B.C., and we know dense breasts are one of multiple risk factors for this disease,” Dr. Malcolm Moore with BC Cancer said in a statement.

The move follows the completion of an external review by Dr. Andy Coldman, an emeritus scientist in the cancer control research department at the University of British Columbia and the BC Cancer Research Centre. Other recommendations included training for doctors and a communications team to provide other education and support.

While cancer in a fatty breast is easy to spot, it is often hard for a screening to detect cancer in a dense breast because tissue and cancer both appear white. Roughly 43 per cent of women over the age of 40 have dense breasts, according to Dense Breasts Canada, and considered a greater risk factor than having a family history of breast cancer.

Michelle di Tomaso, co-founder of Dense Breasts Canada, said her group is “thrilled” with the move that will allow women to better understand how their breast density associates with breast cancer risk – an aspect of her health she never had the chance to see.

Her group has been calling for this information to be provided after a screening for years.

Di Tomaso was diagnosed in 2014 with Stage 2B triple positive breast cancer, after being told that her diagnosis had been delayed three years because she had dense breasts.

In the two years after the diagnosis, she underwent two surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation, a double mastectomy and three unsuccessful reconstructive surgeries.

Co-founder Jennie Dale said the information will allow women to decide if they need further screening – something they will either need to pay for privately or try to request through their doctor.

While mammograms catch about 50 per cent of cancers in the densest breasts, ultrasounds can catch an additional three to four cancers per 1,000 women.

“Before [women] were in the dark, they couldn’t talk with their doctor – their doctor didn’t know their breast density, they didn’t know their breast density,” she said.

“Women are still going to need to go get screened privately and advocate very strongly.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Broken axle caused New Hazelton train derailment: TSB

It could happen again without a different way to inspect trains

Cullen remains uncertain about political future

Says he’ll make decision in early March

Spring fishery closures mulled for south coast

Fewer fish are returning to rivers and more conservation needed, say feds

Terrace resident’s bill banning single-use plastics introduced in Ottawa

MP Nathan Cullen’s presented Ben Korving’s private member’s bill Wednesday

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Skier dies at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Cause of death for young man has not been released

R. Kelly charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse

R&B star has been accused of sexual misconduct involving women and underage girls for years

More sailings coming to 10 BC Ferries’ routes

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said the sailings were originally cut in 2014

Cryptocurrency exchange CEO who suddenly died leaves Kelowna house in will

Gerald Cotten, holding the keys to money tied up in his virtual currency exchange, died in December.

Regulator’s report, coming today, unlikely to settle Trans Mountain pipeline battle

The Trans Mountain pipeline will remain a controversial topic both in the political ring and out

Most Read