BreastCheck

Most women age 50-74 should have a screening mammogram (breast x-ray) every 2 years.

  • Call 1-855-95-CHECK to make an appointment.
  • Trans men and women may need regular mammograms.
  • BreastCheck is a program that checks Manitoba women ages 50 and over for early signs of breast cancer. Regular screening mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early. When found early, there may be more treatment options and better chance of a cure.
  • In 2016, BreastCheck transitioned from analog mammography to digital mammography. Click here to find out what these changes mean for you.

What is a Screening Mammogram?

A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast tissue. An x-ray is a type of radiation that can pass through the body and is used to make an image of the tissue and bones. A mammogram image shows the detail of breast tissue from two different angles.

On the day of your mammogram appointment:

Wear a two piece outfit.

Do not wear deodorant.

At a screening mammogram appointment:

  • a female technologist will ask you some health questions.
  • you will needt o remove your top and bra for the mammogram.
  • each breast is carefully positioned and held firmly between the compression paddle and detector.
  • the breast tissue is spread evenly on the mammogram machine. This is called compression. You may have discomfort, but know that it only lasts for a few seconds.
  • four images will be taken to show the detail of your breast tissue. Each image only lasts for a few seconds.
  • the technologist will check the quality of your mammogram images to be sure that the radiologist (doctor who reviews images) can read them.
  • you may be asked to repeat an image if it is blurry, or the breast needs to be repositioned. This will usually bedone before you leave the mammogram room.

Breast compression:

  • is notharmful to your breasts.
  • is used to get a clear image of the  breast tissue.
  • reduces the amount of radiation needed for the mammgoram.
  • is tolerable for most clients.

After your mammogram appointment:

  • you may experience redness or bruising; this usually disappears in a few days.
  • it is rare, but some women can have some tearing of the thin skin under the breast.
  • if you experience problems that do not go away after a few days, see your healthcare provider.
  • if you have questions about your appointment or results, contact BreastCheck.
  • a radiologist will look at your mammogram images. Within 2 weeks of your mammogram, both you and your healthcare provider will receive your results. Results will be either normal or abnormal.

Screening vs. Diagnostic Mammogram

The type of machine used and the process to get the first four images is the same for a screening or diagnostic mammogram. More images may need to be taken in a diagnostic mammogram to look at a specifici area more closely, and different types of tools may be used to compress the tissue in different ways.

Benefits & Potential Harms of Screening Mammography

For women of average risk research shows that the benefits of breast cancer screening with mammography outweigh the potential harms. BreastCheck recommends most women age 50-74 have a screening mammogram every 2 years.

Benefits

Research shows that regular screening mammograms reduce deaths from breast cancer in women age 50 to 74 by 20-30%.

This is due to early detection. Most breast cancers discovered through regular screening are found at an earlier stage when there may be more treatment options as well as more positive outcomes.

Potential Harms

Breast screening does not prevent breast cancer. A mammogram can only find breast cancer if it is already there. Some women may develop breast cancer before their first mammogram or between mammograms.

Mammograms do not find all breast cancers. 20 out of every 100 breast cancers cannot be seen on a mammogram, some cancers are very difficult to see on a mammogram, and/or the radiologist reading the mammogram may not see cancer (this happens occasionally no matter how experienced the doctor is).

When a person has more glandular and fibrous connective tissue than fatty tissue, their breast tissue may be called dense. Breast density:

  •  is a term used to describe how breast tissue looks on a mammogram.
  • is not related to how your breasts look or feel.
  • increases your risk of developing breast cancer.
  • makes it harder to see breast cancer on a mammogram.

At this time, mammography is the best way to screen for breast cancer. Experts do not agree if women with dense breasts should go for more tests after a mammogram or how often they should be screened. A radiologist may recommend more tests if they think it is best for you. If you have dense breasts and are concerned about your risk of developing breast cancer  you should discuss your presonal risk factors with your healthcare provider. For more information about dense breasts click here (pdf).

It is important to know how your breasts normally look and feel. Contact your healthcare provider if you notice any changes in your breasts between screening appointments, even if you had a normal screening mammogram.

About 5 out of every 100 women screened at BreastCheck will be sent for further tests. Only 1 of these 5 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Although this is a normal part of the screening process, going for further tests may cause anxiety and worry.

Mammograms are not guaranteed to save your life. Not all breast cancers found at screening can be cured. Some women will die of breast cancer even though it was found by a screening mammogram; some will die of something else before they would die of breast cancer. For these women, their quality and length of life may not be increased by finding the breast cancer. There is no way to know which women will fall into these groups and which women will be truly helped by screening.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has a Decision Aid (pdf) for women ages 40 and older that further explains the benefits and possible harms of breast cancer screening.

Who Should Get Checked?

Most women age 50 to 74 should have a screening mammogram every 2 years. Trans men and women may need regular mammograms. Talk with your healthcare provider about your individual risk for breast cancer.

Women can be screened at BreastCheck if they are 50 years of age and over and:

  1. do not have breast symptoms such as unusual lumps or bloody nipple discharge,
  2. do not have a personal history of breast cancer, and
  3. do not currently have breast implants.

Women who are not eligible to be screened a BreastCheck should speak with their healthcare provider about the best breast healthcare for their individual needs.

Women who have symptoms of breast cancer should be referred to a diagnostic mammography clinic by a healthcare provider to undergo further testing.

Results

In the days after your mammogram, a radiologist will look at your mammogram images. Within 2 weeks of your mammogram, both you and your healthcare provider will receive your results. Results will be either normal or abnormal. Click to view the BreastCheck pathway (pdf) in English or French.

Click chart to enlarge

Your mammogram report will also note your breast density. BreastCheck categorizes breast density into one of two categories:

  1. less than 75% dense breast tissue (<75%), or
  2. equal to or greater than 75% dense  breast tissue (>75%).

When a person has more glandular and fibrous connective tissue than fatty tissue, their breast tissue may be called dense. To request your breast density information click here to complete a request for information. The request can be mailed or emailed to BreastCheck.

If you have dense breasts and are concerned about your risk of developing breast cancer, you should discuss your personal risk factors with your healthcare provider.

Most mammogram results will be normal and they will be asked to return to BreastCheck in 2 years for another screening mammogram.

Some women may be asked to return in 1 year. The most common reasons for this are:

  • High or low increased risk based on family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer.
  • The radiologist thinks it is best for the woman to come more often based on their clinical assessment.
  • It is the woman's first mammogram and we do not have other mammograms to compare.

BreastCheck will send you a letter to remind you when it is time to book your next appointment. Call us if you do not receive a letter.

Even if you have a normal mammogram result, if you notice any changes from how your breasts normally look and feel, you should contact your healthcare provider.

Further Testing

A mammogram image may show something that the radiologist wants to check with a follow-up test(s). It is normal to be a little scared, but it is important to know that most women who go for further follow-up testing do not have breast cancer.

1- Referral

You will be directly referred to one or more of the following places for additional test(s):

  • WRHA Breast Health Centre
  • Manitoba X-Ray Clinic
  • Radiology Consultants of Winnipeg
  • Brandon Regional Health Centre
  • Thompson General Hospital
  • Boundary Trails Health Centre
  • Health Sciences Centre
 

2- Follow-Up Test(s)

You will be provided with more information about your specific test(s), how to prepare and how you will receive the results by the place to which you are referred.

Most clients who need further testing have one or both of these tests:

A) Diagnostic Mammogram

A diagnostic mammogram experience is very similar to a screening mammogram. The diagnostic mammogram takes a closer look at a specific area of  breast tissue by:

  • taking x-ray images from different angles than the standard angles in screening mammography,
  • applying extra pressure to thin out a small specific area of breast tissue so it can be seen more clearly, or magnifying a specific area of breast tissue.

B) Ultrasound

A breast ultrasound uses sound waves to create an image of the breast. During an ultrasound, a small amount of gel will be placed on your breast. A small probe (wand) will glide over the skin on your breast(s). The image can show if the lump is solid or filled with fluid.

A small number of patients will need a biopsy in addition to a diagnostic mammogram and/or ultrasound. A biopsy removes a small piece of breast tissue for testing. There are two main types of biopsy:

A) Ultrasound Core Biopsy

An ultrasound core biopsy uses a needle to remove tissue for testing when a lump can be felt, or seen on an ultrasound.

  • A probe (wand) will be pressed against your breast to create an image and find the area of concern. You will feel some pressure on your breast.
  • A small amount of local anesthetic (freezing) is injected into your breast with a needle. You will feel a sting.
  • A small cut will be made in the breast area where the tissue will be removed.
  • You may hear a click as the tissue samples are collected (biopsy).
  • A bandage is placed over the skin opening.

B) Stereotactic Core Biopsy

A stereotactic core biopsy uses a needle to remove tissue when an area is seen only on a mammogram.

  • A small amount of local anesthetic (freezing) is injected into your breast with a needle. You will feel a sting.
  • You will lie face down on a table and place your breast through a hole in the table. The breast is compressed in a mammography machine. You will feel some pressure in the breast.
  • A small cut will be made in the area of the breast where the biopsy needle will be inserted. A sample of tissue will be taken (biopsy).
  • A bandage is placed over the skin opening.

Other follow-up that may also be needed can include:

  • surgical consultation, or
  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

3- Results

After your follow-up test(s), you will be notified by mail if/when you can return to BreastCheck for a screening mammogram. Most clients will have a normal follow-up test result and return to BreastCheck for routine screening. For more information about follow-up tests you can contact:

CancerCare Manitoba, BreastCheck
1-855-95-CHECK

Breast & Gyne Cancer Centre of Hope
1-888-660-4866

BreastCheck

We mail you a letter to make a screening mammogram appointment every 2 years starting at age 50. A doctor's referral is not needed. Call 1-855-95-CHECK to make an appointment.

Find A Mammogram Clinic

All clinics are wheelchair accessible. Make BreastCheck aware of any physical limitations when booking your appointment.

To find a mammogram clinic nearest to you:

  1. Enter your postal code or town/city name in the space below.
  2. Click on the magnifying icon to search.

Did you know?

  • About 900 women in Manitoba are diagnosed with breast cancer each year and about 200 will die from the disease.
  • 8 out of 10 breast cancers occur in women age 50 or older.
  • Regular mammograms can find breast cancer 2 to 3 years before it can be felt by you or your doctor.
  • Only 10% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history of breast cancer.
Facebook Twitter Youtube Email Contact Us

BreastCheck Clinics:

  • Boundary Trails Health Centre
    Junction of highways 3 & 14, Winkler, MB
  • Brandon Nurses Residence
    620 Frederick Street, Brandon, MB
  • Thompson General Hospital
    871 Thompson Drive South, Thompson, MB
  • Misericordia Health Centre
    #5-25 Sherbrook Street, Winnipeg, MB
  • Two mobile clinics that travel to nearly 90 rural and northern communities on a two-year cycle. Appointments at mobile clinics are available up to 6 weeks prior to BreastCheck arrival.