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Early Detection

On this page:

  • Screening Mammography
  • Screening Mammography Locations
  • “Fast Track” Facilitated Diagnostic Work-ups
  • Hereditary Cancer

Screening Mammography Program of BC

The BC Cancer Agency’s Screening Mammography Program provides free, regular mammograms to BC women from the age of 40 without a doctor’s referral. (see guidelines below)

A screening mammogram is an x-ray exam of the breast used to find breast changes in healthy women with no signs of breast problems.  At the exam, a trained female technologist takes four x-rays, two of each breast. 

Who is eligible?

  • Must be a B.C. resident
  • Women 40 to 49 years of age: have access to screening every 2 years
  • Women 50 -74 years of age: recommended screening every 2 years
  • Women 75 years and older: continue to have access to screening without a doctor's referral
  • Women 40 -74 years of age *with a family history of breast cancer in a first degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) to receive annual screening
  • Have no breast changes (e.g. new lumps, thickening or discharge)
  • Can provide the name of a doctor to receive the results
  • Have not had a mammogram within 12 months
  • Have not had breast cancer
  • Do not have breast implants
  • Are not pregnant or breast-feeding

If you do not meet the criteria for screening mammography, please talk to your doctor to find out about other mammography options.

What to do if you are experiencing a breast health concern.
 

Screening Mammography Locations

Mobile services

Mobile screening mammography services are offered through the Screening Mammography Program once or twice a year.  For a schedule, please visit http://www.bccancer.bc.ca/screening/breast/find-a-clinic/mobile-mammography-service   

Fixed location services

Island Health offers screening mammography services at some Island Health locations.
 

“Fast Track” Facilitated Diagnostic Work-ups for Women with Abnormal Screening Mammograms

About 7% of all women screened in BC have abnormal screening mammograms. These cases may require follow-up imaging tests, called diagnostic work-ups.

The Screening Mammography Program has a Fast Track process to reduce the time required to complete diagnostic work-ups. 

If your physician participates in the Fast Track process, you will receive a call to arrange a timely appointment for follow-up imaging tests. Otherwise, a physician will arrange for the appropriate tests once he or she receives the screening mammogram report.

Women who have not heard from their physician or a diagnostic facility within one week of receiving their abnormal results letter need to contact their physician.

Family physicians interested in participating in the Fast Track program can  phone 1.800.663.9203.

Hereditary Cancer 

People are often surprised to learn that only 5-10% of cancer diagnosis can be attributed to heredity.

The BC Cancer Agency website has information to help you determine whether your family is at risk for developing a hereditary cancer.

For families at risk for developing a hereditary cancer, a physician can refer you to the BC Cancer Agency's Hereditary Cancer Program  for genetic counseling.   

If you would like more information you can contact the Hereditary Cancer Program at 1-800-663-3333 Ext. 672198.