Breast Cancer Screening Participation
- In the 30-month period from January 2016 to June 2018 (2016–2017), over 2 million Ontario women ages 50 to 74 were eligible for breast cancer screening. Of those, over 1.3 million were screened with a mammogram.
- Since the same period in 2010–2011 (January 2010 to June 2012), participation in average risk breast cancer screening has remained steady at approximately two-thirds (65%) of eligible women.
- In 2016–2017, 87% of all eligible women screened for breast cancer were screened through Ontario’s province-wide organized breast cancer screening program, the Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP), compared with 72% in 2010–2011.
Why is this important to Ontarians?
- Getting screened regularly with mammography is important because it can find breast cancers early when it is less likely to have spread to other parts of the body. Treatment may also have a better chance of working when breast cancer is found early. Women ages 50 to 74 who get screened regularly with mammography can lower their chance of dying from breast cancer.
See Breast Cancer Screening (Mammogram) Participation Methodology for technical information.
- The Ontario Breast Screening Program recommends that most participants get screened for breast cancer every 2 years (24 months). The screening participation indicator measures the percentage of eligible women who had a mammogram over a 30-month period. For example, participation for 2016–2017 includes data from January 2016 to June 2018. This gives women 6 additional months to complete a mammogram.
- Although screening participation (i.e., percentage of eligible women who received a mammogram) has levelled off, Ontario women are continuing to screen with the Ontario Breast Screening Program.
- In 2016–2017, approximately 65% (n=1,391,983) of women ages 50 to 74 were screened for breast cancer. Participation has remained stable since 2010–2011 (66%; n=1,176,185). The total number of women screened has increased by about 216,000 since 2010–2011. During this same period, the number of women eligible for screening in Ontario has increased by about 374,000.
- In 2016–2017, 87% of all eligible women screened for breast cancer were screened through the Ontario Breast Screening Program, compared with 72% in 2010–2011.
- Out of 1.39 million women screened both within and outside of the Ontario Breast Screening Program in 2016–2017, the majority (more than 1 million women) were screened within the program. Screening within an organized program provides a number of important benefits to women.
- Breast cancer screening participation varies by age group: Similarly to previous years, in 2016–2017, participation was highest in women ages 65 to 69 (69%) and lowest in women ages 70 to 74 (60%).
Getting comparable data and measures from other jurisdictions is a challenge. Be aware of the different data definitions, methodologies and years used in indicators measured outside of Ontario. Jurisdictional comparison is still useful to provide a rough indication of how well Ontario is doing relative to other provinces and countries.
Ontario’s screening participation compares favourably with Australia’s. In 2016–2017, Ontario’s breast cancer screening participation was 65%, compared with Australia’s 55% in 2016–2017. Australia’s screening participation has remained steady at between 53% and 55% since 2010–2011.
In 2016–2017, Ontario’s breast cancer screening participation was 65%, compared with England’s 75% in 2017–2018.
Be careful when comparing Ontario’s participation with England’s because of these reporting differences:
- Reporting periods: 2016–2017 in Ontario versus 2017–2018 in England.
- Age ranges: England reports on women ages 53 to 70, while Ontario reports on women ages 50 to 74.
- Timeframe: England’s data measures participation within a 36-month period, while Ontario’s indicator measures participation within a 30-month period.
Ontario’s screening participation compares favourably with British Columbia’s. In 2016–2017, Ontario’s breast cancer screening participation was 65%, compared with British Columbia’s 53% in 2015–2017.
While both jurisdictions measure participation within a 30-month period, be careful when comparing Ontario’s participation with British Columbia’s because of these reporting differences:
- Reporting periods: 2016–2017 in Ontario versus 2015–2017 in British Columbia.
- Age ranges: Ages 50 to 69 in British Columbia versus ages 50 to 74 in Ontario.
Ontario’s breast cancer screening participation (65%) is similar to Quebec’s (62%).
While both jurisdictions measure participation within a 30-month period, be careful when comparing Ontario’s participation with Quebec’s because of these reporting differences:
- Reporting periods: 2016–2017 in Ontario versus 2012-2014 in Quebec.
- Age ranges: Ages 50 to 69 in Quebec versus ages 50 to 74 in Ontario.
For more information on comparisons of breast cancer screening participation among jurisdictions, see the screening graphs at Comparisons.
- The Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) has plans to continue to expand by transitioning all non-OBSP sites to OBSP sites by December 2019.
- Screening through the OBSP offers important benefits including:
- inviting people to participate
- reminding screening participants when it is time for their next screening
- informing participants of their screening test results
- advising participants to follow up after an abnormal test result
- tracking participants throughout screening and diagnosis processes
- measuring program quality and performance
- Cancer Care Ontario continues to help primary care providers identify eligible breast screening participants through the Screening Activity Report (SAR). This online tool provides primary care providers involved in a patient enrolment model with the complete screening status of each of their enrolled age-eligible patients, including those who are overdue or due for screening, and those who require follow-up. Cancer Care Ontario has also partnered with a rural First Nations community to improve breast cancer screening participation by issuing a Screening Activity Report to primary care providers serving the community.
- Cancer Care Ontario continues to work with the Ministry of Health on public awareness initiatives such as breast cancer awareness month, to promote breast cancer screening participation.