TORONTO, ON –
The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) welcomes the announcement of an investment of $500,000 from the Government of Canada to expedite the review of the breast screening guidelines by the Canadian Task Force on Preventative Health Care (Task Force). The guidelines were last updated in 2018 and since then, evidence and understanding of breast cancer early detection has continued to evolve, applying pressure on the guidelines to keep pace.
Currently, the Task Force guidelines recommend mammography every two years for those who are between 50 and 74 years old and not at high risk for breast cancer. For women aged 40 to 49, it is recommended that they make an informed decision with their healthcare provider about whether mammography is right for them.
“We have heard from those living with breast cancer that the current guidelines do not match their lived experience and that they do not feel represented by today’s guidelines,” explains Andrea Seale, CEO, CCS. “Because the guidelines inform the work of primary care providers across the country and influence provincial screening programs, it is vital that they stay current and are inclusive of the varied experiences and perspectives of people affected by breast cancer.”
In Canada, an estimated 1 in 8 women is expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women in the country. Access to breast cancer screening is critically important to find breast cancer early when the likelihood of successful treatment is higher.
Last month, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) proposed updates to their recommendations on breast screening, which included women starting biennial screening at age 40. In that review, the USPSTF recognized inequities in breast cancer mortality and length of survival for Black women.
CCS has been urging the Task Force to review the guidelines and address gaps since 2019. In light of the USPSTF guideline release, we have advocated for the Task Force to have the resources and funding to complete the guideline update in a timely and efficient way and revisit how they develop guidelines to find efficiencies and learn from other jurisdictions. In addition, CCS has encouraged the Task Force to intentionally include the perspectives of those who are eligible for breast cancer screening and those who have lived experience with breast cancer in the guideline update.
“In Canada, we know there are people who are currently eligible for screening who are not accessing it due to barriers and inequities, especially people in racialized and Indigenous communities and those living with low-income and in rural-remote communities,” adds Seale. “As we discuss breast cancer screening and the Task Force proceeds with a review of the guidelines, we need to better understand the impacts of these barriers and work to reduce them.”
CCS is committed to continuing conversations with the Task Force, breast cancer screening experts and with people who have been affected by breast cancer, as well as supporting the work of provincial and territorial organized breast screening programs.
Screening programs are an important part of cancer care. As the review takes place, CCS continues to encourage all individuals over the age of 40 to speak with their healthcare providers about breast screening in their province or territory and what’s right for them. Participating in screening programs that are in place across Canada is the best way to detect breast cancer early.
To learn more about breast cancer or early detection, visit cancer.ca/breast or call 1-888-939-3333.
About the Canadian Cancer Society
The Canadian Cancer Society works tirelessly to save and improve lives. We fund the brightest minds in cancer research. We provide a compassionate support system for all those affected by cancer, across Canada and for all types of cancer. As the voice for people who care about cancer, we work with governments to shape a healthier society. No other organization does all that we do to make lives better today and transform the future of cancer forever. Help us make a difference. Call 1-888-939-3333 or visit cancer.ca today.
For more information, please contact:
Canadian Cancer Society
(437) 266-2493 Ext. 23128