High-Risk Population

For women ages 30 – 69
Every year

Less than 1% of women in the general population are estimated to be at high risk for breast cancer. Women at high risk have a greater estimated lifetime risk of developing breast cancer (up to 85%) than the general population (10-12%). Women at high risk develop breast cancer at an earlier age and their breast cancers tend to be more aggressive than breast cancers diagnosed in women at average risk.

There is evidence that annual screening with breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in addition to mammography benefits women at high risk. The introduction of combined Mammography/MRI screening into the Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) for women aged 30 to 69 who are at high risk for breast cancer will improve their quality of care, ensuring that they receive the benefits of screening and promoting the early detection of breast cancer.

Women are eligible for the OBSP high risk screening program if they have no acute breast symptoms, are 30 to 69 years of age and meet one of the following risk criteria:

  • Are known to be carriers of a deleterious gene mutation (e.g., BRCA1, BRCA2)
  • Are the first degree relative of a mutation carrier (e.g., BRCA1, BRCA2) and have declined genetic testing
  • Are determined to be at ≥ 25% lifetime risk of breast cancer — must have been assessed using either the IBIS or BOADICEA risk assessment tools, at a genetics clinic
  • Have received chest radiation treatment (not chest x-ray) before age 30 and at least 8 years previously.

How the OBSP High Risk Genetics Program Works:

Women are encouraged to speak to their healthcare provider to find out if they may be at high risk for breast cancer. A referral from your healthcare provider is needed for an appointment with a genetic counsellor for a risk assessment.

For women who have been confirmed to be at high risk for breast cancer, OBSP High Risk Screening Centres are based at the following hospitals:

    • CIBC Breast Assessment Centre, Juravinski Hospital, Hamilton Health Sciences Corporation
    • St Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, Charlton Site
    • Walker Family Cancer Centre, Niagara Health System, St. Catharines Site

For more information on the OBSP for women at high risk click here.

All follow-up breast assessment services for women who require extra tests then continue at whichever Screening Centre they attend.

OBSP High Risk Screening Centres:

Regionally, OBSP High Risk Screening Centres are located at the following hospitals:

  • CIBC Breast Assessment Centre, Juravinski Hospital, Hamilton Health Sciences Corporation
  • St Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, Charlton Site
  • Walker Family Cancer Centre, Niagara Health System, St. Catharines Site

For more information on the OBSP for women at high risk click here.