Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP)
The Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) is a province-wide, organized cancer screening program that provides high-quality breast cancer screening throughout Ontario to 2 groups of women. The OBSP recommends that:
- most women ages 50 to 74 get screened every 2 years with mammography
- women ages 30 to 69 who are confirmed to be at high risk of developing breast cancer get screened once a year with a mammogram and breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (screening breast ultrasound if MRI is not medically appropriate). Women ages 30 to 69 can get screened through the High Risk OBSP if they have a referral from their doctor, have no acute breast symptoms and fall into one of the following risk categories:
- Are known to have a gene mutation that increases their risk for breast cancer (e.g., BRCA1, BRCA2, TP53, PTEN, CDH1)
- Are first-degree relatives (parent, brother, sister or child) of someone who has a gene mutation that increases their risk for breast cancer (e.g., BRCA1, BRCA2, TP53, PTEN, CDH1), have already had genetic counselling and have chosen not to have genetic testing
- Have been assessed at a genetics clinic (using the IBIS or BOADICEA tools) as having a 25% or greater lifetime risk of breast cancer based on personal and family history
- Has a personal or family history of breast or ovarian cancer
- Has had radiation therapy to the chest to treat another cancer or condition (e.g., Hodgkin lymphoma) before age 30 and at least 8 years ago
Women should talk with their doctors about regular breast cancer screening. Studies show that regular mammograms lower the risk of dying from breast cancer in women ages 50 to 74.
Women can find their nearest OBSP site by calling 1-800-668-9304 or visiting Ontario Breast Screening Program locations.
Screening mammography can find breast cancers when they are small, less likely to have spread and more likely to be treated successfully. Women ages 50 to 74 are encouraged to get screened through the Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) to receive all the program benefits.
Communication to Women and Healthcare Providers
- Women eligible for screening through the OBSP are sent invitations to get screened, along with information about breast cancer screening and details on how to find an OBSP site.
- After their screening appointment, women with normal screening results get letters telling them their results are normal.
- Women screened in the OBSP get letters reminding them when to get screened again.
- OBSP sites send normal and abnormal screening results to a woman’s healthcare provider, and follow up on abnormal screening results.
Coordination and Navigation
- High Risk OBSP sites connect women referred to the program with genetics clinics for genetic assessment, if appropriate.
- High Risk OBSP sites book appointments for screening mammography and screening breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (or screening breast ultrasound if MRI is not medically appropriate).
- The OBSP indicates whether a woman should be screened in 1 year or 2 years based on her screening results and risk factors.
- OBSP assessment sites help guide women with abnormal screening results through to diagnosis by coordinating follow-up tests and documenting the results of those tests.
Women at High Risk
The Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) screens women ages 30 to 69 who are identified as being at high risk for breast cancer. In addition to the benefits of the OBSP, the High Risk OBSP sites:
- connect women referred to the program with genetics clinics for genetic assessment, if appropriate
- book appointments for screening mammography and screening breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (or screening breast ultrasound if MRI is not medically appropriate)
Find out more about the OBSP's screening for women at high risk.
Increasing Screening Rates
To increase screening rates, we are working with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and other partners to:
- more aggressively promote screening
- use information technology and other supports to help primary care providers with screening
- increase efforts to reach under-screened populations including new Canadians, people living in poverty, people without a family physician, First Nations, Métis, Inuit and other Aboriginal people
We aim to increase the proportion of Ontario women who have breast cancer screening, especially those from more vulnerable populations, by supporting local and regional innovative approaches to screening.