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BC Cancer Agency’s new digital mammography vehicle begins summer tour for women in Northern BC

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VANCOUVER — The BC Cancer Agency’s new digital mammography vehicle will be visiting more than 37 Northern communities including Kitimat, Mackenzie and Tumbler Ridge over the next three months. 

Two state-of-the-art digital mammography vehicles were officially added to the Screening Mammography Program February 1, 2016, at an announcement with a traditional blessing ceremony on the Musqueam First Nation.

The vehicles, one of which will be in the North from now until August, are equipped with a wheelchair lift, a spacious waiting area, and an examination room, providing women with a comfortable and consistent mammography experience at all locations. Locations will offer a wide selection of daytime and some weekend appointments, to make fitting a mammogram into busy family and work schedules convenient.

Screening mammograms are available for women 40 years of age and older. Women are encouraged to discuss the benefits and limitations of mammography with their doctor. If they choose to have a mammogram, it will be available every two years and a doctor's referral is not needed.
Eligible women can use the clinic locator at to either find a year-round fixed location near them, or view the schedule for the mobile mammography service in their area. For remote communities that the mobile coaches are unable to access, assisted travel support is provided for eligible women in the community to attend either the nearest fixed centre or mobile stop.
Quick facts:
  • Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer diagnosed in Canadian women.
  • In 2015, an estimated 3,400 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in British Columbia, and approximately 610 will die from the disease.
  • Mammograms help find cancer in its earliest stages when there are more treatment options and a better chance for successful treatment. B.C. has some of the best survival outcomes for those women who do get breast cancer.
  • Research has shown a 25 per cent reduction in deaths from breast cancer among women who are screened through the Screening Mammography Program.
  • Only half of eligible BC women are taking advantage of this important free service regularly.
  • The BC Cancer Agency's Screening Mammography Program, established in 1988, was the first organized population-based screening program in Canada for the early detection of breast cancer.
  • The provincial program has 36 fixed screening mammography centres throughout the province, and three mobile screening units that serve more than 120 rural and remote communities in British Columbia.
  • The mobile units perform about 10 per cent of the total number of screening mammograms in British Columbia. Overall participation in the screening program by Indigenous women over the past three years has increased by nine per cent, and is currently at 57 per cent.
  • Currently, the program visits 120 remote and rural communities annually, including more than 40 Indigenous communities.
  • In 2014, 259,341 screening mammograms were performed in BC, and 1,404 breast cancers reported (5.4 per 1,000 exams).
  • In 2015/16 12,953 screening mammograms were performed in the Northern health region, including 2,103 screens performed by the mobile mammography service.
  • The transition from analog to digital is part of BC’s Provincial Breast Health Strategy and allows for greater efficiency in reporting, sharing of images, and allows radiologists to access both screening mammography and diagnostic images and reports on the same local system.
  • In addition, technologists will be able to see the images right away to ensure image quality, rather than waiting for the films to be developed when they return to their reporting centre.
  • The BC Cancer Agency mobile mammography service is the first of its kind in Canada to use wireless cellular data to send the images through a secure VPN tunnel from the mobile unit to the reading centre, ensuring greater efficiency of the service.
Terry Lake, Health Minister
“Accessibility should never be a barrier to receiving high quality diagnostic testing or treatments. The mobile mammography unit provides yet another way for women in rural and remote communities in the north to get the care they need and I encourage all those eligible to take full advantage of this service.” 
Janette Sam, Operations Director, BC Cancer Agency Screening Mammography Program
“This will be one of two tours planned for Northern BC this year. Each year the mobile unit screens approximately 2,100 women in Northern BC, and this year we hope to screen even more women as they become aware of this new state of the art service available to them in their communities.”
Dr. Ronald Chapman, Vice President Medicine, Northern Health
“Northern Health works hard with its partners such as the BC Cancer Agency to find ways to deliver care as close to home as possible for people in northern B.C. Having the mobile mammography screening in northern B.C. allows patients to receive tests from new and innovative technology operated by health care professionals.”
The BC Cancer Agency is part of the Provincial Health Services Authority, providing provincewide specialty health care. The BC Cancer Agency provides a comprehensive cancer control program for the people of British Columbia by working with community partners to deliver a range of oncology services, including prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, research, education, supportive care, rehabilitation and palliative care. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter @BCCancer_Agency.​
The Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) plans, manages and evaluates selected specialty and province-wide health care services across BC, working with the five geographic health authorities to deliver province-wide solutions that improve the health of British Columbians. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter @PHSAofBC.
Northern Health: Northern Health provides health services in partnership with communities and organizations to over 300,000 people from south of Quesnel, north to the Yukon Boarder, west to Haida Gwaii and the Pacific Ocean, and east to the Alberta border in the province of British Columbia. For more information, visit, follow us on Twitter @northern_heatlh​ or like us on Facebook at
Media Contact:
Jenn Currie
BC Cancer Agency
BC Cancer Agency; breast cancer
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