“We know that early detection saves lives and this new program that ensures speedy turnaround for people with screenings that are abnormal is a tremendous asset,” said Ida Chong, Minister of Healthy Living and Sport.
While SMP is a screening program designed for women without any apparent symptoms of breast problems, about 7.2 per cent of screening mammogram results will be abnormal.
“An abnormal result does not necessarily mean cancer, but a woman with such a result may fear it is cancer until she receives further tests,” says Dr. Andy Coldman, Vice President of Population Oncology, BC Cancer Agency, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority. “The waiting is hard and Fast Track helps to shorten the wait.”
Initially, general practitioners had to explicitly enroll in the Fast Track Referral System or women needed to choose a Fast Track clinic to benefit from facilitated referrals to diagnostic imaging following an abnormal mammography result. Now all doctors and SMP participants will automatically have access to Fast Track. The change has been endorsed by the BC Medical Association.
“Fast Track helps women by shortening the time between an abnormal screening result and the start of diagnostic investigation,” notes Dr. Linda Warren, Provincial Chief Radiologist, SMP. “The median time between an abnormal screening report and the first assessment procedure is reduced by one-and-a-half weeks for Fast Track patients. This is important because approximately 60 per cent of women with abnormal screening results will have a definitive diagnosis after their first assessment procedure.”
Overview of the Fast Track process:
- At the time of screening, women are told that if further tests are needed, they will be contacted by a diagnostic facility to book an appointment.
- If further tests are needed, the woman is booked at the closest FastTrack diagnostic clinic, generally the same location as the screening site.
- Every effort is made to provide follow-up appointments within one week.
- The SMP films and radiologist’s recommendation for further imaging work-up are sent to the diagnostic office before further tests are conducted.
- The woman’s doctor is advised where the further imaging tests are being conducted and the results of the testing.
- The SMP has 37 fixed locations and three mobile services covering more than 120 communities across B.C. Women aged 40 to 79 can book an appointment for a free mammogram without a doctor’s referral, by calling 604-877-6187 or 1-800-663-9203.
More information on the SMP and the Fast Track Referral System can be found on the BC Cancer Agency’s website at www.bccancer.bc.ca.
The BC Cancer Agency, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority, is committed to reducing the incidence of cancer, reducing the mortality from cancer, and improving the quality of life of those living with cancer. It 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. The BC Cancer Foundation raises funds to support research and enhancements to patient care at the BC Cancer Agency.
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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
BC Cancer Agency
Toll-free: 1.800.663.3333, ext 676272