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Screening Guidelines and Program Eligibility - Breast Cancer

Be Breast Aware

The Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) recommends that all women – regardless of age or risk factors – be breast aware. This means knowing how your breasts normally look and feel so you can tell if there are changes.

  • Know how your breasts normally look and feel.
  • Know what breast changes to look for, such as:
    • a lump or dimpling,
    • changes in your nipple or fluid leaking from the nipple,
    • skin changes or redness that do not go away,
    • any other changes in your breasts
  • In most cases, changes in the breast are not signs of cancer but to be sure you should have them checked by your doctor or nurse practitioner. This is a good time to talk with your doctor or nurse practitioner about regular breast cancer screening, as well as what you can do to reduce your lifetime risk of breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines

  • If you are 40–49, talk to your healthcare provider about having a mammogram.
  • If you are 50–74, go for a mammogram every two years at the Ontario Breast Screening Program.
  • If you are 30–69 and think you may be at high risk for breast cancer, talk to your physician about a referral for a yearly mammogram and breast MRI based on family or medical history. See OBSP Screening for Women at High Risk for more information.

Program Eligibility: Ontario Breast Screening Program

The OBSP screens two groups of women, which include the following:
  • Ontario residents at average risk for breast cancer who are 50 to 74* years of age and have:
    • no acute breast symptoms
    • no personal history of breast cancer
    • no current breast implants
    • not had a mammogram within the last 11 months

      * Women over age 74 can be screened within the OBSP; however, they are encouraged to make a personal decision about breast cancer screening in consultation with their healthcare provider. The OBSP will not recall women over age 74 to participate in the program.  There isn’t enough high-quality scientific evidence to support screening women older than age 74 regularly. To continue screening through the OBSP, a healthcare provider will need to provide a referral.
  • Ontario residents at high risk for breast cancer, aged 30 to 69 years, who have a referral from their physician, have no acute breast symptoms, and fall into one of the following risk categories:
    • They have a genetic mutation that puts them at high risk for breast cancer.
    • They have refused genetic testing, and have a parent, sibling or child with agenetic mutation that puts them at high risk for breast cancer.
    • They have a family history that indicates a lifetime risk of breast cancer that is greater or equal to 25% confirmed through genetic assessment.
    • They received radiation therapy to the chest before 30 years of age as treatment for another cancer or condition (e.g., Hodgkin’s disease).
Last modified: Fri, Mar 13, 2015
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