Breast Cancer Screening

Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in Ontario women. It can be hard to see or feel, which is why Cancer Care Ontario recommends that women have their breasts screened using mammography. A mammogram is an X-ray of your breast tissue and is the best screening test available to detect breast cancer early.

The Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) is the provincial breast cancer screening program that oversees breast cancer screening for women between the ages of 50 and 74 years. In order to be affiliated with the OBSP organized breast screening program, regional sites and their staff must meet provincial quality and performance standards.

Over two decades of data from the OBSP shows that outcomes improve when comprehensive, high-quality, multi-disciplinary assessment is integrated with screening. Average time to diagnosis is reduced, and the ratio of benign to malignant tumours improves. Overall, this means better care for patients.

Other benefits to being part of the OBSP include:

  • High-quality mammograms in sites accredited by the Canadian Association of Radiologists.
  • Well-developed quality assurance at each site.
  • A letter inviting women to participate in screening.
  • A reminder letter when it is time to return for next screening mammogram. Usually, this is every two years. Women over the age of 73 do not receive a reminder letter.
  • A letter notifying participants and health care providers of screening results.
  • Help to set up extra tests or referrals if your results suggest that they are needed.
  • Tracking participants throughout screening process.
  • Evaluating program quality and performance.

When should I be screened for breast cancer?

The OBSP recommends that women at average risk should get a regular breast screening mammogram every two years if they:

  • Are between 50 and 74 years of age
  • Are Ontario residents
  • Have no acute breast symptoms
  • Have no personal history of breast cancer
  • Have no current breast implants
  • Have not had a mammogram in the past 11 months

Women at high risk for breast cancer

Some women are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer, and they require annual screening. Speak to your health care provider about the right screening for you. Follow this link for more information about the provincial OBSP High Risk Program

Where can you get screened?

At the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre there are two breast screening services available to you: The Linda Buchan Centre and the Screen for Life Coach. Both of these sites are affiliated with the OBSP.

  1. The Linda Buchan Centre for Breast Screening and Assessment is located in Diagnostic Imaging at our Hospital.
  2. The Screen for Life Coach is a mobile cancer screening service that travels to more than 60 different locations throughout Northwestern Ontario. The Screen for Life Coach offers breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening.
  3. Regional OBSP Affiliated Sites:

    OBSP breast assessment affiliates provide timely, high quality diagnosis and follow-up. They also provide the information and emotional support that clients need.

    Fort Frances
    Riverside Health Care Facilities
    110 Victoria Avenue
    Fort Frances, ON
    P9A 2B7
    (807) 274-4808
    Lake of the Woods District Hospital
    21 West Sylvan Street
    Kenora, ON
    P9N 3W7
    (807) 468-9861
    Sioux Lookout
    Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre
    1 Meno Ya Win Way
    PO BOX 909
    Sour Outlook, ON
    P8T 1B4
    Thunder Bay
    Thunder Bay Diagnostics
    63 Algoma St N #100
    Thunder Bay, ON
    P7A 4Z6
    (807) 683-4411

    How do you book an appointment?

    To book a breast screening mammogram appointment with any of the Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) in Northwestern Ontario, call the Screen for Life Office: (807) 684-7777 or 1-800-461-7031.

    When you make your appointment you can choose the location you’d like to visit for breast screening.  The Screen for Life Coach offers over 60 locations in Thunder Bay and the region.

    Do you have more questions?

    Administrative Contact: Screen for Life Office
    (807) 684-7777 or 1-800-461-7031

    Cancer Screening Tips

    • More than 80% of breast cancers are found in women over 50 years of age.
    • Most women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history.
    • Cancer screening finds cancer earlier, when it is easier to treat.
    • The Screen for Life Coach offers breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screening services.
    • The Screen for Life Coach visits over 60 different locations throughout Northwestern Ontario.
    • We work with Cancer Care Ontario to offer organized cancer screening programs for adults in our region. Visit for more information.