Breast cancer screening services resuming
As breast cancer screening services resume gradually and safely, changes have been made to services to reduce the risk of contamination.
- Since June 4, 2020, breast cancer screening tests are gradually being resumed in Québec. Letters of invitation to participate the Québec Breast Cancer Screening Program (PQDCS) are gradually being sent out again too. Women will not all receive their letter at the same time.
- If your appointment for a mammogram was cancelled because of the pandemic, your Designated Screening Centre (CDD) will contact you to schedule another appointment.
- Screening and investigation centres are taking the necessary steps to prevent the spread of COVID‑19. Special measures have been put in place to keep you and health care professionals safe. To safeguard everyone’s health, please follow the instructions.
- To discuss the advantages and disadvantages of screening or if you are at risk of complications associated with COVID‑19 (for example, you have a chronic disease or a weakened immune system), see a doctor or a specialized nurse practitioner (SNP).
- If you received a letter of invitation but are no longer in the target age group to participate in the Québec Breast Cancer Screening Program (you are 70 years of age or older), you must get a medical prescription for a mammogram. If you do not have a family doctor or SNP, contact your Regional Service Coordination Centre (CCSR) to find out what to do.
For additional information, contact the CCSR in your region.
If you notice any of the following breast changes at any time, contact a doctor or SNP immediately:
- a lump (mass) in the breast;
- the skin on a breast is pulled inward (retraction);
- the skin on a breast looks like orange peel;
- the skin over one third or more of a breast becomes red;
- fluid suddenly comes out of the nipple;
- the nipple is retracted (the nipple looks like it is pulled inward;
- the skin on the nipple looks or feels different (for example, it may look like eczema but does not get better).
About 10 % of women in the PQDCS have an abnormal mammogram result. When a mammogram is abnormal, additional examinations are required for more definitive results. If you have an abnormal mammogram, don't worry. In most cases, additional examinations do not reveal a cancer.
If you must have additional examinations, contact a Designated Reference Center for Investigation (CRID) or a Designated Screening Center (CDD) to make an appointment without delay.
Wait times for additional examinations may vary by CRID and CDD. To find out about wait times by CRID and CDD, consult the Wait times for access to mammography and other examinations page on the website of the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (in French only).
Talk to your doctor if you wish to have your additional examinations at a facility other than a CRID or CDD.
Types of Additional Examinations
The various additional examinations each correspond to a specific need. You will only have additional examinations that are required for your specific situation.
Type of Additional Examinations
Clinical breast examination
Inspection and palpation of the breasts and armpits by a doctor
Additional mammograms to see a part of the breast better and to specify the nature of the abnormality.
A test to see inside the breast using an ultrasound probe.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
An exam to see inside the breast using magnetic fields.
Removal of a cell or tissue sample in the breast with a needle.
Removal of tissue from a breast lump through surgery.
Stereotactic localization biopsy
Surgery that requires placing a marker (a fine wire) in the breast at the exact spot where an abnormality has been detected using a computer. This wire serves as a marker to guide the surgeon in an accurate sampling of the area in question.
Preparing for Additional Examinations
If you must have additional examinations, prepare as you would for a mammogram. Also follow the instructions that are given to you when you make your appointment.
Like many women, you may be worried about having tests to screen for a breast disease. Discuss your fears and concerns openly with your doctor. You can also get information and support from the Regional Service Coordination Center (CCSR) in your region. Ask about wait times for receiving your test results.
Additional examinations results
Your test results will be given to you by your doctor or the center where you had your exam.
There are 2 possible results: normal or abnormal.
- Normal result: In 95 % of cases, additional examinations results are normal. In other words, nothing points to the presence of a cancer in the breast at the moment of examination.
- Abnormal result: In 5 % of cases, additional examinations confirm the presence of a cancer. If you receive an abnormal result, your doctor will inform you of the necessary steps.
Do not hesitate to talk to a doctor for more information:
- About your mammography results
- About the results of your additional examinations
- About anything else on your mind