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Expanding Breast Cancer Screening To More Women

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Expanding Breast Cancer Screening To More Women

McGuinty Government Supporting 90,000 Additional Screens

Ministry of Health

Women who are at a high risk of getting breast cancer will soon have better access to yearly screens that can lead to early detection and save lives.

Starting July 1, women between 30 and 69 years old who are at a high risk for breast cancer can receive an annual breast MRI plus a mammogram through Ontario's Breast Screening Program (OBSP) - a program administered by Cancer Care Ontario.  Research shows that having both screens is the best way to detect breast cancer for women who are at high risk. The OBSP currently screens women 50 and older, so today's announcement will mean an extra 90,000 screens for women at high risk.

Once the expanded program is up and running, women who think they may be at risk can visit their doctor or nurse practitioner for a referral to the OBSP.  Referrals will be based on specific criteria, such as genetics or family history.  The OBSP will then help set up appointments for services, like breast MRI or genetic counselling, as well as reminders to patients to return for their next screening test.

Expanding breast screening is based on the advice of clinical experts and best medical evidence.  This move is part of the government's Open Ontario Plan to provide better access to health care services while improving quality and accountability for patients.

Quick Facts

  • Regular screening, combined with greater self-awareness and improvements in treatment, has been shown to save lives. In fact, survival rates are up and deaths from breast cancer have been reduced by up to one third.
  • To date, the OBSP has provided over 3.6 million screens and detected more than 19,000 cancers, the majority in the early stages.
  • Since October 2006, Ontario has funded 35 new cancer drug products, five of which are for breast cancer.

Background Information

Additional Resources


“Close to 9,000 Ontario women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year alone. While we can't prevent this disease, we can help more women beat it through early detection. Through the expanded OBSP more women - particularly those at high risk of developing breast cancer - will have access to regular, and potentially life-saving, screening.”

Deb Matthews

Minister of Health and Long-Term Care

“Expanding breast screening to women at high risk for breast cancer makes sense. We know that early detection of breast cancer provides women with more effective treatment options and a better chance for a successful recovery.”

Dr. Linda Rabeneck

Vice President of Prevention and Cancer Control, Cancer Care Ontario

Media Contacts



Government Health and Wellness