Breast Assessment (Further Tests/Follow-Up)

What is breast assessment?

Ten percent of women who undergo breast cancer screening will be called back for further tests and follow-up. The path that women follow from the time they find out they may have a breast problem, or abnormality, until the time they receive a definitive diagnosis is called `Breast Assessment.’

The Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) is interested in working with mammography facilities in Ontario to provide follow-up of detected abnormalities via screening.

Why affiliate with OBSP?

Over two decades of data from the OBSP has shown that outcomes improve when comprehensive, high-quality, multi-disciplinary assessment is integrated with screening. Average time to diagnosis is reduced, and the ratio of benign to malignant tumours improves. Overall, this means better care for patients. OBSP breast assessment affiliates provide timely, high-quality diagnosis and follow-up. They also provide the information and emotional support that clients need.

Breast Assessment Affiliates in our Region:

  • Brantford – Brantford General Hospital, Brant Community Healthcare System
  • Burlington – Burlington Ultrasound & Radiology
  • Hamilton – Juravinski Cancer Centre
  • Hamilton – St. Joseph’s Healthcare, King Campus and Charlton Campus
  • Niagara Falls – Niagara Health System, Greater Niagara General Site,
  • St. Catharines – Niagara Health System, St. Catharines Site.
  • Welland – Niagara Health System, Welland Site

CIBC Breast Assessment Centre – Juravinski Hospital

When breast cancer is suspected either from preliminary findings of a mammogram or through signs and symptoms, the period of waiting for further tests and determination of a diagnosis can be difficult for patients and families. These difficulties can be compounded with the challenges of navigating through the assessment process.

By consolidating the expertise of radiologists, surgeons and pathologists in one location, the CIBC Breast Assessment Centre will reduce the need for multiple appointments and minimize the time spent waiting for test results. The coordinated care provided will reduce the anxiety that patients might experience during this stressful period. The Centre’s activities will also include expedited access to prevention and genetic counselling services, which will lead to better patient outcomes.

The CIBC Breast Assessment Centre will extend the ‘gold standard’ of care associated with the Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) to new patient groups, including:

  • Women who have undergone a screening mammogram through OBSP and have an abnormality seen (OBSP clients are 50 – 74 years of age);
  • Women who have symptoms of breast cancer (any age);
  • Women who are at high risk for breast cancer due to genetic factors; and
  • Women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and need regular follow-up

Care for men requiring breast cancer assessment will also be facilitated at the new Centre (less than 1 per cent of breast cancer occurs in men).

Funding for the Centre began with an initial donation from CIBC and subsequently through the comprehensive efforts of Juravinski Hospital & Cancer Centre Foundation, with more than $5.2 million raised in cash and pledges. The donors who enabled the new Centre represent a diverse group of businesses, community-based organizations, foundations and individuals (many of them breast cancer survivors themselves), who contributed their time, energy and support through personal gifts or special event fundraisers.


The Breast Assessment Initiative

The Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) established its Breast Assessment Initiative to promote improvement in breast assessment services for women with breast abnormalities found through OBSP screening. The OBSP recruits facilities (both Hospitals and Independent Health Facilities) that provide breast assessment services to become Breast Assessment Affiliates. A facility becomes an Affiliate by submitting a proposal, and, once the OBSP approves the proposal, signing a Memorandum of

In return for such payment, the Affiliate is expected to include in its program:

  • The integration of family physicians into the breast assessment process
  • Achievement of Canadian Association of Radiologists (CAR) Mammography Accreditation
  • The availability of radiologists with breast imaging expertise
  • The availability diagnostic imaging (at least mammographic and ultrasound imaging)
  • The availability of facilities for needle and surgical biopsy
  • The availability of breast surgery expertise
  • The availability of breast pathology expertise
  • A designated patient navigator who will coordinate the investigations involved in the diagnosis of abnormality
  • A detailed care map for the coordination of services and expected timelines
  • Mechanisms for ongoing evaluation and quality improvement
  • Agreement to report the results of assessment according to set standards
  • Agreement to achieve set timelines such as providing the client’s definitive diagnosis to her primary healthcare provider within 2 weeks of completing the process

The Ontario Breast Assessment Collaborative Group advised the OBSP on the development of these expectations.