Radiologist and Medical Director, Screening Mammography Program, BC Cancer Agency

Hi everyone! I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about how donations to the BC Cancer Foundation support research work at the BC Cancer Agency, where I serve as the Medical Director for the Screening Mammography Program .

While most of you are familiar with our screening centres across the province, there’s a lot that we do here that occurs behind the scenes.  Not only do we use screening technology to try and find breast cancer early, but we also monitor screening statistics closely. This allows us to ensure that we are providing a quality service, as well as identify trends and areas of concern as we strive to further reduce breast cancer deaths in this province.   

Booking systems, technology and mammography readings are just some of the areas we continually work to improve on, in both service and results.  Over the past few years, we’ve placed a great deal of emphasis on increasing participation among newcomers as well as women who have previously attended. Currently, our statistics show that only half of eligible B.C. women are using this life-saving service. It’s difficult to understand why women between the ages of 50-74 are not getting screened. Women in this age group should be screened every two years, as this age group stands to benefit the most from routine screening. Over 80 per cent of new breast cancers diagnosed each year are in women aged 50 or older.

Why have they not returned to screening? How can we better our service? How can we improve cancer detection rates?  The generosity of BC Cancer Foundation donors allow us to support projects specifically aimed at the investigation and analysis of these types of questions.

Our team of physicists in Kelowna currently oversees a number of our research projects. These projects look at many different aspects of breast screening; from risk evaluation to analysis of breast density and how that may affect risk. Contributions from BC Cancer Foundation donors have benefitted many of these projects.

For example, one of our recent breast density projects required computers with the ability to store the images we need to collect for analysis. BC Cancer Foundation donors helped us purchase these computers. We couldn’t do this kind of work without their support.

Research often takes a long time to complete. Because of this, it is very important we have funding. Funding allows us to better plan for such long term projects; many of which may help guide the future directions of screening mammography. We’ll talk more about that next week.

For more information on SMP, please visit www.screeningbc.ca/breast.

Sincerely,

Christine Wilson