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Provincial Breast Health Strategy

The Provincial Breast Health Strategy aims to improve breast cancer screening, diagnosis and prevention across B.C.
Action Plan

PHSA, government, other health authorities and community partners established the strategy in 2010. The strategy aims to implement B.C.’s Breast Health Action Plan.

. . . all women in BC will receive high quality, coordinated breast screening and diagnostic services

PHSA developed the action plan at the request of the Ministry of Health Services. The plan outlines B.C.'s existing breast health system and sets out provincial objectives and strategies to make the system work better for women. 


Areas of Work

The strategy's work focuses on four main areas in the plan:  

  • improving the clinical pathway
  • upgrading mammography equipment
  • addressing workforce issues
  • collaborating on a province-wide, evidence-based approach to prevention.

The clinical pathway is focused on improving the quality and consistency of a woman’s journey from receiving an abnormal screening mammogram result (or finding a physically detectable breast problem) to initiating treatment.

The Clinical Pathway Project Team has now developed a recommended breast diagnostic clinical pathway designed to map out this journey. The goal is to ensure consistent, timely care for women throughout BC. 

The pathway is based on a “hub and spoke” model, with health authorities (HAs) designating hospitals of their choice as breast imaging centres (hubs) to provide advanced imaging services and image-guided biopsies as needed. This approach is already happening in BC: the pathway is designed to build on innovative models that already exist. After feedback from HA leaders and other stakeholders, the goal is to pilot the pathway in a small number of centres in 2012.

Please take a look at the recommended diagnostic clinical pathway and the hub and spoke model

Read an article updating family physicians on progress made so far toward a recommended Clinical Pathway in the Family Practice Oncology Network newsletter (Winter 2011) (page 10).

See the Clinical Pathway presentation made by the team at the 2010 Provincial Breast Health Summit. 

Read a summary of theClinical Pathway discussion from participants at the 2010 Provincial Breast Health Summit.

Most of B.C.’s screening and diagnostic mammography equipment is film-based (analog). 

The digital mammography team is developing a strategy to implement digital mammography throughout BC's screening program. 

The team will integrate this work with the diagnostic mammography equipment replacement strategies of BC's health authorities and community imaging clinics.

See the Digital_Mammography_presentation made at the 2010 Provincial Breast Health Summit. 

Reada summary of the Digital_Mammography_discussion from participants at the 2010 Provincial Breast Health Summit. 

Update: As of January 2018, all Breast Screening centres are using digital mammography. 

Breast cancer screening and diagnostic imaging services are delivered by highly qualified professionals.

The workforce team is looking at the demand for these specialized services, as well as potential recruitment, retention and other strategies to help ensure that there are enough of these specialized professionals in B.C.

A Breast Imaging Fellowship for radiologists has been established by BC Women's Hospital. Find out how to apply.

Read a summary of the Workforce_discussion from participants at the 2010 Provincial Breast Health Summit.

Measures to reduce the number of deaths from breast cancer include: 

  • risk reduction (primary prevention): reducing the risk of the disease occuring 
  • screening (secondary prevention): detecting breast cancers as early as possible.  

A PBHS Prevention project team, with representatives from all of the PBHS partners, is working on both measures.

Risk reduction

Many public and non-profit agencies provide women with information about breast cancer risk reduction. One of the objectives of the PBHS is to ensure that this information is consistent and evidence-based. The PBHS Prevention Team is working on consistent messages that can be used by all agencies. 

To help communicate these messages, plans are now underway to create a breast cancer prevention social marketing strategy. This will be centred on a partnership website that contains clear, evidence-based messages to help women understand the most common risk factors for breast cancer, as well as information about screening and early detection.

Update: BC’s leading cancer organizations have joined forces to identify Five Plus ways to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer. 


The screening work of the PBHS is focused on updating BC’s current screening mammography policy. The objective is to ensure that the BC Cancer Breast Screening program targets women who will receive the most benefit. 

A BC Cancer review of the screening mammography policy is currently underway, and is expected to be complete by June 2012. This review will include examination of the recommendations for breast cancer screening released by the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care in November 2011, as well as the results of a BC Cancer-commissioned evidence review that was already underway before the national Task Force began its work. 

While the review of BC’s screening policy continues, the scope of BC’s screening mammography program remains the same: Healthy (asymptomatic) women of 40 to 79 can refer themselves to the program, and women older or younger who have a higher risk of developing breast cancer can get a mammogram if they have a doctor’s referral.

Update: As of February 2014, the BC Cancer Breast Screening policy was updated. Find more information on the website.

More information is available on the BC Cancer Breast Screening website.

See the Prevention presentation made at the 2010 Provincial Breast Health Summit. 

Read Prevention_discussion from participants at the 2010 Provincial Breast Health Summit.

There are a number of partners involved in the Provincial Breast Health Strategy. In addition to the Ministry of Health Services and the province's regional health authorities, the key partners include:

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SOURCE: Provincial Breast Health Strategy ( )
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