Pro­vin­cial plan is good news

The Compass - - OPINION - BY JANE PAR­SONS

Ed­i­tor’s note: the fol­low­ing let­ter first ap­peared in the May 9 edi­tion of The Tele­gram.

Re­cently, the pro­vin­cial bud­get was de­liv­ered in the House of Assem­bly. It was wel­come news to learn that women in New­found­land and Labrador age 40 to 49 can now ac­cess reg­u­lar breast screen­ing ser­vices, with a re­fer­ral from their doc­tor. And a new dig­i­tal mam­mog­ra­phy ma­chine in Gan­der will bring down cur­rent wait times and eas­ily serve the de­mand among the newly el­i­gi­ble age group.

Un­for­tu­nately, women con­tinue to re­ceive con­tra­dic­tory and mis­guided in­for­ma­tion on breast health and breast can­cer. Most re­cently, in 2011 the Cana­dian Task Force on Pre­ven­ta­tive Health Care re­leased screen­ing guide­lines that caused a stir in the breast can­cer com­mu­nity.

The guide­lines sug­gested there was lit­tle value in early screen­ing and women aged 40 to 49 should not be reg­u­larly screened. It’s im­por­tant to note that while the re­search is wellinten­tioned, the data used to pro­duce the guide­lines is 25 to 40 years old and based on equip­ment that is now out­dated.

There have been sig­nif­i­cant ad­vances made in breast imag­ing over the years, most notably the in­tro­duc­tion of dig­i­tal mam­mog­ra­phy. All 16 mam­mog­ra­phy ma­chines used in New­found­land and Labrador are dig­i­tal units, con­sid­ered the gold stan­dard in screen­ing.

Strong sci­en­tific ev­i­dence sup­ports the Cana­dian Breast Can­cer Foun­da­tion’s (CBCF) po­si­tion on reg­u­lar screen­ing. Early de­tec­tion and di­ag­no­sis through par­tic­i­pa­tion in or­ga­nized breast screen­ing pro­grams can re­duce the death rate for women in the 40 to 49 age group by 25 per cent. Fur­ther, the public de­mand across Canada for ac­cess to screen­ing ser­vices un­der­scores our be­lief that the ben­e­fits of early screen­ing far out­weigh any risk of a f a lse alarm.

Now that this new group of women can ac­cess screen­ing, CBCF’S next big pri­or­ity will be to work col­lab­o­ra­tively with the breast screen­ing pro­gram to en­sure that all women, re­gard­less of where they live, can ac­cess th e sam e s tan­dard of c a re through­out New­found­land and Labrador. If you’re el­i­gi­ble, please don’t wait book your mam­mo­gram to­day. Call 1-800-414-3443. Jane Par­sons is CEO of the

Cana­dian Breast Can­cer Foun­da­tion (CBCF) in the

At­lantic re­gion

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