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).
Regional Service Coordination Centers
In all regions of Québec, a Regional Service Coordination Center (CCSR) coordinates PQDCS activities.
The CCSR provides the following key services:
- Sends letters of invitation and reminders once every 2 years.
- Sends mammogram results.
- Verifies care for participants who receive an abnormal result on their mammogram.
- Responds to women’s questions and comments regarding the Program.
- Communicates information about the Program to women and health-care professionals in each region.
To find contact information for the CCSR in your region, consult the Regional Service Coordination Centers (CCSR) section.
If you have questions or medical requests, consult your doctor.
Designated Screening Centers
Designated Screening Centers (CDD) are medical imaging centers designated by the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux to provide screening mammograms. CDD can be radiology clinics or hospital centres. In addition to mammograms, many CDD provide free additional examinations. You may have to pay for some additional tests given in private radiology clinics.
Only centers designated by the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux can provide mammograms under the PQDCS. To be designated, clinics and hospital centres are subjected to rigorous quality standards. They must meet the following requirements:
- Be accredited by the Canadian Association of Radiologists’ Mammography Accreditation Program. This accreditation must be renewed every 3 years.
- Hold certification in mammography from the Institut national de santé publique du Québec’s Laboratoire de santé publique du Québec (in French only). This certification attests, among other things, that mammography devices are safe. It must be renewed annually.
- Be recommended by the respective region’s integrated health and social services centre (CISSS) or integrated university health and social services centre (CIUSSS). CISSS and CIUSSS are responsible for recommending to the Ministère clinics and hospital centres that should be designated CDD in their territory.
All practitioners working in these centers must have the skills required by their professional associations. In Québec, professional associations ensure the quality of their members’ professional actions.
To find contact information for CDD in your region, consult the Designated Screening Centers (CDD) section.
Designated Referral Centers
Designated Referral Centers (CRID) are hospital centresthat provide free additional examinations recommended under the PQDCS.
Just like Designated Screening Centers, CRID must meet PQDCS quality standards. CRID must all be accredited by the Canadian Association of Radiologists ’ Mammography Accreditation Program and have certification in mammography from the Laboratoire de santé publique du Québec (in French only).
To find contact information for CRID in your region, consult the Designated referral centers (CRID) section.
Mobile Mammography Services
There are 3 types of mobile mammography services:
The Institut national de santé publique du Québec manages and operates the CLARA and SOPHIE mobile mammography units. The Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux du Bas-Saint-Laurent is responsible for the SARA mobile unit.
CLARA mobile unit
The CLARA mobile unit is a complete mobile clinic that provides mammography services in a bus. This bus is fitted with a mammographic X-ray system. It goes to remote areas of Québec where screening services are not offered on a permanent basis. It can also be used to fulfil temporary needs.
SOPHIE portable unit
The SOPHIE portable unit is a mammographic X-ray system that can be transported by air, sea, land or rail. It is used to provide screening services to communities living in areas that are difficult to access by road or that do not have road infrastructure. This portable unit is therefore most used in the northern regions of Québec.
SARA mobile unit
In 2007, the health and social services network in the Bas-Saint-Laurent region acquired a mobile unit to meet the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux’s accessibility and quality assurance standards. Called SARA, the mobile unit provides mammography services in a trailer. The mobile unit runs regular clinics to offer its services to women in the regional county municipalities (RCMs) of Kamouraska, Témiscouata, Les Basques, La Mitis and La Matapédia. When the CLARA mobile unit is not available, SARA can also be used to meet temporary needs in other regions of Québec.