BY BILL PHILLIPS
Women in the North now have access to better mammography and ultrasound equipment.
On Thursday Northern Health and the B.C. Cancer Agency officially opened its new breast imaging clinic at the University Hospital of Northern B.C. in Prince George.
“The installation of this equipment, that will be used for both screening and diagnostic mammography, will support our goal of finding breast cancer as early as possible,” said Janette Sam, operations director of BC Cancer Agency’s screening mammography program.
The clinic brings together new, state-of-the-art digital mammography and ultrasound equipment and a team of radiologists and technologists, enabling women to have their screening mammograms and, if required, diagnostic mammograms and ultrasounds in one location. This will improve access to services, and result in less time between screening, and diagnosis and treatment.
Screening mammograms are available for all women over the age of 40 years old. The tests, which are relatively simple, are free and a doctor’s referral is not needed.
This $2.585 million project is the result of funding of $2.037 million from the BC Cancer Agency’s Screening Mammography Program and the Ministry of Health and $548,000 from the Spirit of the North Health Care Foundation.
“In addition to the new equipment, we’ve brought all breast imaging services under one roof, so women can come here and have their screening, their diagnostic mammograms, their breast ultrasounds all done in one facility,” said Dr. Karen Seland, a radiologist at UHNBC. “We’re also able to breast biopsies and any pre-operative localization procedures that are required prior to surgery.”
She added that within the year the clinic, with the help of Spirit of the North Healthcare Foundation, will be providing 3D mammography and breast MRI services.
The new equipment, she said, will reduce the amount of time between having a mammogram and getting the results.
The project also included significant renovations to the fourth floor at UHNBC; installing digital mammography equipment and the supporting equipment to offer complete screening and diagnostic services.
“Working together with those who support us and believe in better healthcare in the North, this was a campaign we could embrace together,” said Judy Neiser, CEO of the Spirit of the North Healtcare Foundation. “Few of us go through life without being touched by someone close to us, who has taken a journey through breast cancer, or a breast cancer scare. We are very proud of the impact this will have for our donors.”
The Provincial Breast Health Strategy’s improvements to breast cancer screening for northern BC residents has recently seen state-of-the-art digital mammography units installed at hospitals in Quesnel, Dawson Creek, Terrace and Prince Rupert; a unit is also slated for Bulkley Valley District Hospital in Smithers.