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Bulkley Valley District Hospital celebrates improved access to breast cancer screening

News Release

Bulkley Valley District Hospital celebrates improved access to breast cancer screening

January 29, 2018

Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson was joined by representatives from Northern Health and BC Cancer’s Screening Mammography Program, along with members of the Smithers Breast Health Advisory Group and other stakeholders to celebrate the official opening of Bulkley Valley District Hospital’s new digital mammography service in Smithers.

“People from Hazelton to Houston, and beyond, now have a better chance of having breast cancer detected early, and will wait less time between screening and the treatment plans that can help save lives,” said Donaldson, who attended the event on behalf of Health Minister Adrian Dix. “Investing in advanced technology such as digital mammography also supports health professionals in providing the best possible care.”

Funding for the upgrade, which included improved IT equipment and renovations to support the new unit, was $947,576, provided by the Province through the Provincial Health Services Authority to BC Cancer’s Screening Mammography Program.

“Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer for women in British Columbia, yet only half of eligible women are getting regular mammograms,” said Nancy Aldoff, Provincial Professional Practice Leader for the Screening Mammography Program. “The best chance for survival is early detection and women in British Columbia are fortunate to have access to the latest advances in digital equipment and treatment of breast cancer. More women should get screening mammograms and I encourage them to share that message with their family and friends.”

One in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime and around 3,500 women in BC are diagnosed each year. Women age 40 to 74 who have a mother, daughter, sister with breast cancer are recommended to have a mammogram every year. Women age 40 to 74 without a family history of breast cancer can have a mammogram every two years.

The new mammography unit at Bulkley Valley District Hospital is state-of-the-art, using direct digital technology to provide both screening exams and diagnostic breast x-ray exams. This delivers more sensitive images with less discomfort for the patient, allowing for a better overall patient experience.

The upgrade to digital mammography aligned with the recommendations of the Smithers Breast Health Advisory Group, which looked to improve screening rates, patients’ experiences, and patients’ breast health outcomes in the Bulkley Valley.

“The Smithers Breast Health Advisory Group brought people from our community together for a common purpose – to enhance the services available locally.” states Advisory Group member Debbie Courtliff, “We worked hard to see this through and are elated over the resulting new digital mammography upgrades.”

Improvements to breast cancer screening for northern B.C. residents are part of the Provincial Breast Health Strategy that aims to improve breast cancer prevention, screening, diagnosis and staging as well as treatment throughout British Columbia. Regular mammograms help find cancer in its earliest stages when there are more treatment options and a better chance for successful treatment.

BC Cancer, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority, is committed to reducing the incidence of cancer, reducing the mortality from cancer and improving the quality of life of those living with cancer. It provides a comprehensive cancer control program for the people of British Columbia by working with community partners to deliver a range of oncology services, including prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, research, education, supportive care, rehabilitation and palliative care. For more information, visit or follow on Twitter @BCCancer.