Breast Cancer | The Canadian Cancer Society calls for screening from age 40

All provinces and territories should lower the age of eligibility for breast cancer screening to 40 for people at “average risk,” says the Canadian Cancer Society.

Some provinces already offer free mammograms starting at age 40, but current guidelines established by a Canadian task force recommend starting screening at age 50.

This is what Quebec is doing — just like New Brunswick and Ontario, but these two provinces have committed to lowering the minimum age for voluntary screening this year to 40 years.

Sandra Krueckl, Senior Vice-President, Mission, Information and Support Services at the Canadian Cancer Society, says it is essential that women across the country have timely access to breast cancer screening, “no matter where they live “.

According to Mme Krueckl, “there is sufficiently strong evidence from clinical trials, modeling studies, and field data to support this move to 40 years.”

About 13% of breast cancer cases in Canada occur in women aged 40 to 49, Krueckl. Earlier diagnosis often means less invasive treatment is needed and outcomes are better, she emphasized.

The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care establishes clinical guidelines to help family doctors and nurse practitioners decide if and when screening should be suggested. The Group currently recommends systematic screening from the age of 50 for people at average risk of breast cancer.

The Task Force is expected to revise its guidelines this spring, but it said in an email that a “detailed” review of clinical trials, international best practices and other data was still underway and did not confirm what will be updated guidelines.

“The Canadian Task Force respects the Canadian Cancer Society and its important work,” it was written. We look forward to discussing the draft breast cancer screening recommendations from our comprehensive review of the evidence later this spring. »

It is the provinces that pay

Even if the Working Group recommends that screening begin at age 40, it is ultimately up to the provinces and territories to finance it, however, emphasizes the Canadian Cancer Society.

It is also “extremely important” that front-line health professionals talk with their patients about breast cancer screening starting at age 40 and not wait until they are 50, said Krueckl.

“We also know that black women are diagnosed more frequently before the age of 50 and that their disease is more advanced,” she added in an interview.

In Canada, one in eight women are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, according to the Canadian Cancer Society.

Here are the eligible ages for breast cancer screening in each province and territory, according to the Canadian Cancer Society:

  • Screening programs in Quebec, Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador begin at age 50.
  • In British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and the Yukon, women can self-screen for breast cancer starting at age 40.
  • In Alberta and the Northwest Territories, screening is offered starting at age 45.
  • Both Ontario and New Brunswick have committed to lowering the minimum age for voluntary testing from 50 to 40 this year.
  • Saskatchewan announced it would reduce screening eligibility to age 40 in a “phased-in” approach starting in 2025.
  • Nunavut does not have an organized breast cancer screening program.

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