The government of PEI has announced that it will be including breast density notifications in its breast cancer screening program by the Fall.
Dense breasts are an important risk factor for breast cancer, as dense breast tissue makes tumours harder to detect. It is recommended that women with dense breasts be screened more often, but women are not usually informed of their breast density.
The Canadian Association of Radiologists and the Canadian Society of Breast Imaging recently released a position statement on this issue (which can be found here), in which they express that breast density should be reported by the radiologist on all screening and diagnostic mammograms, and supplemental screening should be considered for patients with dense breast tissue, as it is an important risk factor for breast cancer.
Now, PEI officials have said that by late Fall, all women on the island will receive notification of their breast density.
“We are thrilled to hear that all Island women who have a mammogram will be notified of their breast density,” says Jennie Dale, co-founder of Dense Breasts Canada.
Dense Breasts Canada is an organization dedicated to raising awareness about the risks associated with dense breasts and advocating for density notification. “Our advocates in PEI have fought very hard for density notification,” explains Dale. “We are grateful for the leadership and commitment from Premier Dennis King and Health Minister James Aylward.”
Breast density can be detected via a mammogram, with no additional tests needed. However, most provinces do not have programs in place to inform women of their breast density, which could be putting them at higher risk of breast cancer.
The PEI government is not the first to implement this initiative, as breast density notification was first put in place in BC last September. However, “PEI will become the first province to routinely offer screening ultrasound to women in the highest category of density,” as pointed out by Dale.
New Brunswick and Nova Scotia will also be following suit, and both will implement breast density notification programs by late Fall.
Dense breasts can mask cancer and make it harder to detect.
Image Credit: Dense Breasts Canada.
The provincial budget has included this notification program as a commitment, but it’s not clear exactly what the program will look like until the budget is passed. Another important item in this budget is the government’s commitment to offer ultrasound screening for women in the highest category of breast density.
“It’s great to see provinces doing the right thing: women will be given information about their breast cancer risk, information that it is their right to have,” adds Dale.
For more information about breast density and its risks, visit Dense Breasts Canada.