Who Should Get a Mammogram?
If you are a BC woman between the ages of 40 and 79 with a primary care provider (doctor, nurse practitioner or naturopath), you can book a screening mammogram
directly through the Screening Mammography Program of BC (SMP) without a doctor’s referral.
You cannot book directly if you:
Can I participate in SMP if I have breast implants?
- Have breast enhancements like implants or injections (see your doctor to arrange a mammogram).
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding (you can use SMP 3 months after completely finishing breastfeeding; see your doctor immediately about any new problems).
- Have a previous history of breast cancer.
- Have any new breast complaints such as a lump or nipple discharge (see your doctor immediately about any new problems).
- Have had a mammogram on both breasts in the last 12 months (you must wait at least one year before having another screening mammogram).
No, if you have breast implants, talk to your primary care provider about your options around screening for breast cancer. While screening mammography recommendations are the same for women with breast implants, you won’t be able to make an appointment directly with SMP as you may require special positioning, and possibly additional images. Contact your primary care provider for a referral for a screening mammogram at a diagnostic imaging office. Can I participate in SMP if I'm under age 40?
Routine screening is not recommended for women under age 40 because the risk of breast cancer is low. Also, screening mammograms aren't as effective in detecting breast cancer in younger women because they generally have dense breast tissue, which can make it more difficult to detect breast cancer on a mammogram.
However, SMP does accept women at high risk
of developing breast cancer who are under age 40 with a primary care provider referral, provided they do not have breast implants or an indication for a diagnostic mammogram. These may include women with a confirmed BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, prior chest wall radiation or women who have a very strong family history* of breast cancer.Why can't women over age 79 use SMP?
Screening mammograms are available to women over age 79, but require a referral. Talk to your primary care provider to discuss whether screening mammograms should remain part of your breast health routine.What happens if I notice a lump in my breast?
If you notice any new changes in your breast such as a lump or nipple discharge, see your primary care provider immediately. Your primary care provider will help you determine if further testing is required.
If your primary care provider decides that you need testing, you will be booked for an appointment at a diagnostic imaging office and you will be seen very quickly. This process is different than regular breast screening, which is done with women who have no breast concerns or symptoms. *A very strong family history of breast cancer may be defined as 2 cases of breast cancer in close female relatives (mother, sister, daughter, aunt, grandmother, great-aunt) on the same side of the family, both diagnosed before age 50; or 3 or more cases of breast cancer in close female relatives (mother, sister, daughter, aunt, grandmother, great-aunt) on the same side of the family, with at least one diagnosed before age 50.