Nova Scotia First Province-Wide Breast Screening Program in Canada

    HALIFAX, Oct. 31 /CNW/ - Nova Scotia is the first province in Canada to
have all mammography services booked using one central number and all data
held in a single database, the Nova Scotia Breast Screening Program announced
today. This, coupled with new full field digital mammography equipment being
introduced, will increase the program's ability to screen more women faster,
and therefore reduce waiting times. The structure of this program may also be
a useful model for other provincial programs.
    "The Government of Nova Scotia is proud that we are the first province
with a provincial breast screening program, and have one of Canada's highest
screening rates. Today, the Breast Screening Program offers mammograms to
eligible women at 11 sites and three mobile units throughout the province, so
that they have easy access to important early screening for breast cancer
close to home," said Health Minister Chris d'Entremont. "Through investment in
eight new digital mammography machines, access to breast screening has
significantly improved. We are committed to further improving access to early
screening so we can continue to reduce the impact of this disease on Nova
    Under the program, women aged 40 and over can call a toll-free number to
book their breast screening appointment at any location in the province. Women
are able to book at the location most convenient to them and where the wait
time meets their needs. The booking operator has access to all appointments
and wait times in Nova Scotia.
    Monitoring and managing the breast screening program is also now easier.
With real-time tracking of wait times, appointments can be distributed evenly
between clinics, or if the wait times increase suddenly at one site, a mobile
screening van can be dispatched to the site to help bring wait times down to a
more manageable level. As data is collected, the program manager is able to
conduct health surveillance and identify regions with lower screening rates or
identify any anomalies in overall routine screening.
    "Early detection is the best defence against breast cancer," said
Dr. Judy Caines, Medical Director of the Nova Scotia Breast Screening Program.
"This program makes it easier for women to access top-quality, timely breast
screening services no matter where they live in the province. We hope this
will lead to more women seeking screening and earlier diagnoses, which means
improved outcomes and a better chance of survival for those women who are
diagnosed with breast cancer."
    This year, an estimated 1,695 women in Atlantic Canada will be diagnosed
with breast cancer, 690 of those will be from Nova Scotia. The World Health
Organization states that even a 70 per cent rate of screening will mean a
35 per cent reduction in deaths due to breast cancer. The most recent
statistics for Nova Scotia indicate the breast screening rate for women aged
50 to 69 is approximately 55 per cent.
    "There is certainly room for improvement in screening rates," said Nancy
Margeson, Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation -
Atlantic Region. "Our goal at CBCF is to have 85 per cent of all eligible
women in Atlantic Canada routinely screened for breast cancer by 2010. Today's
announcement puts us closer to reaching that goal and we hope that this
program can serve as a model for other provinces."

    About NSBSP and CBCF

    The Nova Scotia Breast Screening Program has been operating since 1991
and in during that time it launched the first mobile full field digital
mammography unit in North America. The NSBSP is funded and supported by the
Nova Scotia Department of Health, as well as Health Canada and the Canadian
Breast Cancer Foundation through special project funding. The program receives
endorsement from the Nova Scotia Medical Society, the Nova Scotia Association
of Radiologists and the Nova Scotia Division of the Canadian Cancer Society.
    The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation is a national, volunteer-based
organization dedicated to creating a future without breast cancer. CBCF fights
breast cancer by funding, supporting and advocating for: relevant and
innovative research; education and awareness programs; early diagnosis and
effective treatment; and a positive quality of life after breast cancer.

For further information:

For further information: Angela Crowdis, Canadian Breast Cancer
Foundation - Atlantic, (902) 423-8274,; Kristen Rector, Nova
Scotia Department of Health, (902) 424-2727,;
Christianna Williston, MT&L Public Relations, (902) 425-1860 ext. 229, M:
(902) 448-1421,

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