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Breast cancer screening decision prompts review of Canada’s task force – National

By admin May31,2024

Health Minister Mark Holland said he is opening an external review of the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care amid its decision to not lower the breast cancer screening age guidelines in the country.

Speaking to reporters on Parliament Hill on Thursday, Holland said he is “disappointed” in the task force’s decision to keep Canada’s recommended routine breast screening age at 50.

“I am deeply concerned about the way this process has unfolded [and] membership should be reviewed,” Holland said.

Click to play video: 'Health Matters: National task force not lowering age for routine breast cancer screening to 40'

Health Matters: National task force not lowering age for routine breast cancer screening to 40

These comments come hours after the Canadian task force confirmed that the guidelines for routine breast cancer screenings will remain unchanged, despite mounting pressure from medical experts to lower the age.

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The task force said it holds firm on its position not to lower the recommended age to 40 from 50 due to concerns of over-diagnosis and unnecessary biopsies leading to anxiety among patients.

Click to play video: 'Ontario lowers age for mammograms to 40'

Ontario lowers age for mammograms to 40

It added that if people aged 40 and over understand the benefits and risks of early screening and still wish to proceed, they should be able to get a mammogram every two to three years.

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“There isn’t a woman that I’ve spoken to today who is okay by these recommendations,” Holland said. “The task force’s concern that a false-positive will cause distress, frankly I don’t buy it. I know the women in my life would rather have a false positive that they get to prove negative than not be tested.”

Holland then encouraged women to talk with their physicians about their breast screening options.

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In the wake of the controversial decision, Holland said he is now asking Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, to review the guidelines and share her best practices.

Holland also called for extending the public consultation period for the breast screening recommendations from six weeks to a minimum of 60 days “to ensure all experts are able to be heard.”

The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care is an independent, federally-appointed body that sets national guidelines used by family doctors to determine what kind of health screening patients require. According to its website, it comprises 15 primary care and prevention experts across Canada, such as family physicians, mental health experts and pediatricians.

Click to play video: 'Coalition calls on PHAC tasks force for updated cancer screening guidelines'

Coalition calls on PHAC tasks force for updated cancer screening guidelines

After the news of the updated guidelines on Thursday, the Canadian Cancer Society in a release said it is “disappointed by the new breast screening guidelines” and “specifically the lack of a recommendation to lower the start age to systematically screen for breast cancer nationwide.”

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The Canadian Cancer Society as well as Dense Breasts Canada recommends that routine breast screening start at age 40.

It is ultimately the provinces and territories that say when screening should begin, and many have already lowered the beginning age to 40.

Ontario announced in October 2023 that it would be lowering the starting age for screenings to 40, while B.C., Nova Scotia, P.E.I., and the Yukon have had the starting age at 40 for decades. New Brunswick recently changed its beginning age to 40 for screenings. A U.S. task force also recently changed its recommendations to age 40.

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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