Ontario is reducing the age for government-funded regular breast cancer screening from 50 to 40.
Health Minister Sylvia Jones made this announcement and anticipates an additional 130,000 mammograms to be conducted in the province each year.
This decision follows a draft recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, suggesting that breast cancer screening should begin at the age of 40, as there is evidence to show it reduces mortality rates to a moderate degree.
Starting in the fall of 2024, eligible individuals aged 40 to 74 will undergo mammography every two years.
Those aged 30-69 may receive regular breast mammograms and MRI scans if they meet specific high-risk criteria, such as a family history of breast cancer or specific genes that increase the risk.
The Ministry of Health is planning to hire additional staff and establish a transparent reporting system for wait times at breast cancer screening locations across the province before the program expansion takes effect.
This initiative aims to connect an additional one million women to breast cancer screening services to ensure timely access to treatment and reduce mortality rates.
Quebec considers lowering the screening age like Ontario
Quebec will review whether to lower the age for regular breast cancer screening to 40 following Ontario’s decision on this matter.
The Quebec Ministry of Health, like other jurisdictions, continuously monitors the development of scientific evidence and recommendations for cancer screening.
Canada’s Preventive Care Task Force currently recommends mammograms every two to three years for women aged 50 to 74, and screening for women aged 40 to 49 only if they have a higher risk of breast cancer.
Quebec is also planning to request an assessment from the Institut national d’excellence en santé et services sociaux (INESSS) to determine whether women under 50 should be included in the province’s regular breast cancer screening process. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in Canadian women and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the country.