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Sask. to open Breast Health Centre, expand screening age

A radiologist uses a magnifying glass to check mammograms for breast cancer. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Damian Dovarganes

Those seeking breast cancer treatment and care will have increased support moving forward in Saskatchewan.

On Tuesday the provincial government announced several breast cancer care and screening initiatives, including a new Breast Health Centre in Regina, the expansion of provincial breast cancer screening eligibility and the implementation of new breast cancer tumour localization technology.

Regina’s new Breast Health Centre will provide a co-location of services, such as diagnostic imaging, consultation with specialists and surgeons, patient education, support and navigation as well as on-site access to post treatment care, such as therapies and rehabilitation.

“Family physicians and Nurse Practitioners will be able to provide a referral to the Breast Health Centre, instead of having to coordinate multiple referrals for their patients, which will help reduce wait times,” the province said in a press release.

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The centre will be located at Regina Centre Crossing on Albert Street, and will be operated by the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA).

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It is expected to open in the 2024-25 fiscal year.

“As a surgeon providing breast care, this announcement represents a huge step forward in providing comprehensive, multidisciplinary, and timely care for patients facing breast concerns in Saskatchewan,” Dr. Sarah Miller said.

The province will also make changes to the provincial breast cancer screening age eligibility from 50 and older to include women aged 40-49.

The expansion of the screening program is expected to take effect January 2025 through a phased approach, gradually lowering the age eligibility.

Also expected this spring is the implementation of new breast tumour localization technology. The technology is meant to help provide a more comfortable, safer approach for pinpointing the location of breast tumours in patients.

“With this new technology, a marker, known as a seed, is implanted by a radiologist up to 30 days prior to the procedure, allowing the patient and surgeon to better coordinate their surgical date, resulting in fewer delays and cancellations as well as less discomfort for the patient,” the province said.

Saskatchewan patients have been struggling with long wait times for breast cancer diagnoses. As one solution, the provincial government sent some of the highest-risk patients to a facility in Calgary.

As of Feb. 23, the province said 188 Saskatchewan patients had been referred to that Alberta clinic since November 2023, with 131 of them having their diagnostic procedures completed.

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