More Alberta women will now be able to access breast cancer screening sooner following changes to clinical practice guidelines.
Alberta Health Services says the recommended age for screening every two years for average-risk women has been lowered to 45 from 50, and Alberta is the first province to reduce the screening age to expand the benefits of routine screening.
“Alberta is leading the country by making breast cancer screening available to more women, at a younger age, saving lives in the process. Early detection and treatment give people with cancer the best chance to survive this disease,” said Health Minister Jason Copping in a statement.
The updated guidelines were created by the Alberta Breast Cancer Screening Clinical Practice Guideline Committee and are the result of an extensive review of new available evidence
According to the most recent statistics, more than 240 Alberta women between the ages of 45 and 49 were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018.
Based on current screening rates, about 12,000 more screening mammograms could be performed each year for women aged 45 to 49 under the new guidelines.
“Healthcare providers are encouraged to recommend biennial screening mammograms for women who are at average risk beginning at age 45. By being more proactive in our screening efforts, we can make a real difference in the lives of Albertans,” said committee co-chair Dr. Lisa Stevenson.
Alberta woman, age 45 to 74, are advised to have a screening mammogram every two years or as decided in conjunction with a healthcare provider. Screening is the best way to find breast cancer early before symptoms appear and when treatment may work better.
The Alberta Breast Cancer Screening Clinical Practice Guideline Committee is comprised of 12 voting members, including family and public health physicians, radiologists, and a patient, surgeon, medical oncologist, radiological technician and nurse.
The updated guidelines are available on screeningforlife.ca.