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).
1. You receive a personalized letter inviting you to take part in the program.
If you’re a woman between the ages of 50 and 69, you may have already received, or will soon receive, a personalized letter by mail inviting you to participate in the PQDCS. This letter is sent every 2 years. You are free to participate in the program or not.
This letter is your prescription to have a mammogram. It contains information about the Program and tells you how to make an appointment to have a mammogram at a Designated Screening Center (CDD) in your region.
You can participate in the Program even if you do not have a letter. You can get a prescription for a mammogram from your doctor or a primary care nurse practitioner.
If you have not received your letter or have lost it, contact the Regional Service Coordination Center (CCSR) in your region. The Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec is responsible for giving the names and addresses of women aged 50 to 69 to PQDCS officials. If you have recently moved, Program officials will likely not have your correct mailing address. To find out how to change your address, go on the Changing of Address Under the Québec Breast Cancer Program page on Services Québec’s website.
If you had decided not to participate in the Program and have now changed your mind, you can still register. You must do the following:
- Ask for a prescription for a screening mammogram from your doctor or a primary care nurse practitioner.
- Sign a consent form during your mammogram appointment.
It is your decision if you do not wish to participate in the PQDCS. However, you can still have a mammogram without registering for the Program by requesting a prescription for a screening mammogram from your doctor or a primary care nurse practitioner.
2. Make an appointment to have a mammogram.
To make an appointment, contact a CDD in your region.
Wait times for a mammogram appointment may vary by CDD. To find out about wait times by 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).
You will find contact info for these centers in your letter or in the Designated Screening Centers (CDD) section.
3. Go to the CDD on the date and time of your appointment with the following:
- Your health insurance card
- Your hospital card (optional)
- Your personalized letter of invitation or the prescription you received from a doctor or primary care nurse practitioner.
4. Give your consent for taking part in the Program.
When you arrive at the CDD for your mammogram, you must accept to participate in the PQDCS in writing. You must complete and sign a consent form titled Participant Authorization for the Transmission of Personal Information in the Québec Breast Cancer Screening Program (PQDCS).
It is advised that you read the content of the consent form before showing up to your appointment. However, you cannot complete the form prior to your appointment. In order for it to be valid, the form must be completed and signed at the CDD at the time of your appointment.
You must confirm your decision to participate in the Program by signing the form each time you have a mammogram.
5. Have your mammogram.
You will have to undergo X-rays on both breasts in order to see if there is cancer. Consult the Screening Mammogram section to learn how to prepare for the mammogram and to know about the screening procedure and possible results.
6. Receive the results of your mammogram.
You will receive your mammogram results by mail, whether normal or abnormal. Your family doctor will already have received a detailed report of your mammogram. If you do not have a family doctor, a doctor associated with the Program will receive the report and follow up with you.
You may have to take additional examinations. However, this does not mean you have breast cancer. In most cases, these tests do not reveal any cancerous lesions.
When you participate in the Program, you can receive psychosocial support if you need it. To learn about the services provided, contact the Regional Service Coordination Center (CCSR) in your region.