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Health and Community Services
November 4, 2010

Government Outlines Commitment to Breast Cancer Prevention

The Honourable Jerome Kennedy, Minister of Health and Community Services, today outlined the Provincial Government's continued commitment to breast cancer prevention and provided statistics regarding the uptake of mammography testing in the province.

According to Statistics Canada's 2008 Canadian Community Health Survey, Newfoundland and Labrador has one of the highest uptakes of mammography testing in the country. Almost 90 per cent of women in Newfoundland and Labrador between the ages of 50 to 69 have had at least one mammogram and almost 60 per cent of women between the ages of 40 to 49 have had at least one mammogram.

"Our Provincial Breast Screening Program provides mammograms and breast education to women between the ages of 50 to 69 years old, based on the guidelines of the Canadian Task Force on Preventative Health Care in centres in St. John's, Gander and Corner Brook," said Minister Kennedy. "However, it is clear from the high uptake of mammography testing in our province that many women below the age of 50 are consulting with their family physician and are having a follow up mammogram."

The wait time for a mammography in the province for diagnostic purposes to identify a potential problem is the same day or up to four days. For routine breast cancer screening, the average wait time for a mammogram is two months in Eastern Health region, six to 10 months in Central Health region, less than 30 days in Western Health and less than 20 days in Labrador-Grenfell region.

"Our government recognizes the importance of screening as a way to reduce the incidence of cancer," said Minister Kennedy. "It is for this reason that we continue to invest significantly in this area. In addition, through the new Provincial Cancer Control Advisory Committee our government will receive recommendations on how to further enhance prevention and screening for cancer in our province."

The Provincial Government invested $10.9 million in Budget 2008 to purchase 12 new digital mammography units. These units were placed in St. John's, Carbonear, Clarenville, Burin, Gander, Grand Falls-Windsor, Corner Brook, Stephenville, St. Anthony, Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Labrador City. The new units provide the best imaging technology available for breast cancer screening. The technology allows the mammogram to be enlarged or magnified to provide the best quality picture and allows images to be electronically filed and stored where they can be accessed in seconds.

Following a significant investment of over $125 million in cancer prevention and treatment over the last seven years, the Williams Government this week released a provincial cancer control strategy entitled Gaining Ground: A Provincial Cancer Control Policy Framework for Newfoundland and Labrador. Approximately $1.5 million in funding was announced for several cancer control initiatives this fiscal year. More funding will be made available to support priorities following the implementation of the new Provincial Cancer Control Advisory Committee. Dr. Pradip Ganguly has been appointed as chair of that committee and will provide advice to the minister on the composition of the committee, and will give recommendations on other related matters.

Budget 2010: The Right Investments — For Our Children and Our Future includes approximately $18 million to enhance cancer treatment and prevention throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. This includes almost $8.6 million for the purchase of equipment used in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer; $5 million to continue implementing the recommendations of the Cameron Report; $3.2 million to cover the cost of 10 new drug therapies under the Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program, including cancer drugs; $800,000 to continue funding the HPV immunization program for adolescent females; $317,000 for operational funding for a radiopharmacist and a program director to begin planning for the new Positron Emissions Tomography (PET) scanner at Eastern Health, and funding to announce an accredited stem cell transplant program; and, $240,000 for the initial implementation of a new Provincial Colorectal Cancer Screening Program.

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Media contact:
Tansy Mundon
Director of Communications
Department of Health and Community Services
709-729-1377, 685-2646 

2010 11 04                                                    1:45 p.m.

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