The risk of breast cancer increases with age. The rate of breast cancer among women 50 to 65 years old is 500 cases per 100,000 women – four times higher than among women 40 to 49 years old (140 cases per 100,000 women).
A mammogram is an x-ray to look for signs of breast cancer. For women aged 50 years and older, getting a mammogram as a periodic checkup is known to be effective in preventing deaths by detecting breast cancer in early stages. The effectiveness of screening younger women who do not have a high risk of breast cancer is still unsettled.
Health Quality Ontario Reviews Screening Mammography
In 2007, the evidence on screening women aged 40 to 49 years with average risk for breast cancer was reviewed. Based on that information, the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee decided there was not convincing evidence that screening mammography reduced deaths from breast cancer in this age and risk group. In 2010, after reviewing a new study published since its 2007 recommendation, the committee decided not to change its earlier recommendation.
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has accepted this recommendation.
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has provided the following response: The Schedule of Benefits for Physician Services was revised in October 2010 to distinguish the use of mammography for screening and diagnosis.