PEI

P.E.I. women can expect breast density notification this fall, officials say

Officials with the province are confirming that Island women can expect notification about their breast density this fall. In the past, women with a high breast density were invited to be screened more often — but not necessarily told why.

'We did include it in out platform and it is our intention to roll out this initiative'

Dense breast tissue appears white on a regular mammogram in the same way that cancer does. (Submitted by Dense Breasts Canada)

Officials with the province are confirming that Island women can expect notification about their breast density this fall. 

In the past, women with a high breast density were invited to be screened more often — but not necessarily told why. 

High breast density can make it more difficult to detect cancer, because the tissue looks similar to cancer on a mammogram. 

Now, officials with Health PEI say that by late fall, all women who undergo a mammogram will be notified of their breast density and associated risks.

"This is something we've been hearing nationally and here locally as well with regard to concerns from women to find out specific results around breast screening," said James Aylward, minister of health and wellness.

Promise part of provincial budget

The provincial budget included a commitment that all women on P.E.I. will receive notification of their breast density.

"We did include it in our platform and it is our intention to roll out this initiative," Aylward said. He said right now the program can't be rolled out until the budget is passed.

Minister of Health and Wellness James Aylward says he wants to see a program on breast density roll out as soon as possible, though he doesn't yet know what that will look like until the budget is passed. (Ken Linton/CBC)

 Aylward said the province is working closely with Health PEI, and though he doesn't have a timeline on the breast density initiative — or what it will look like — he is confident it will happen.

"It's going to happen, I can certainly guarantee that, and again it's working with health-care professionals to take their advice to see the best ways to roll out," Aylward said.

Ultrasound commitment now based on review

In the provincial budget, government also committed to ultrasound screening for those in the highest category of breast density.

Now, Health PEI officials say providing ultrasounds will be based upon a review.

"Government is committed to providing ultrasounds based on the outcome of the review of the existing screening program and consultations with clinical staff at Health PEI," officials said in an email to CBC.

A provincial breast screening program review is scheduled to be completed in the fall. Health PEI said in an email once that is complete, timelines around density notification and ultrasound screening will be clearer.

"In conjunction with the program review, we will be moving towards providing breast density information, on the screening report, beginning sometime late fall," the email said.

Aylward said he wants the breast screening initiative to happen as soon as "feasibly possible."

"I'm looking to get on the floor with my budget, have it passed and then I can go back to Health PEI and say: 'We have the money, it's there, let's make it happen.'"

More P.E.I. news

With files from Nicole Willams and Jessica Doria-Brown

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