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Digital mammography service open in Smithers

Successful advocacy to keep mammography service in Smithers celebrated.
Medical Imaging manager Andrea Bradford, (left to right) Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson, and Smithers Breast Health Advisory Group’s Debbie Courtliffe tour Smithers’ digital mammography service Jan. 29. (Marisca Bakker photo)

Successful advocacy to upgrade mammography service and avoid moving services to Terrace came to fruition Tuesday.

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

“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, in a release.

“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.”

Nancy Aldoff describes new digital mammography unit:

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.”

Northern Health health service administrator Cormac Hikisch at the official opening of Smithers’ digital mammography service Jan. 29 at Bulkley Valley District Hospital. (Marisca Bakker photo)