VIHA first to offer digital mammo
– Women on Vancouver Island now have access to faster, more accurate
breast cancer diagnosis with the introduction of digital mammography
across Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA), making it the first
health authority in Canada to offer digital mammography to patients
across its entire region.
“The availability of digital mammography technology across VIHA ushers
in a new era in the detection and diagnosis of breast cancer for women
on Vancouver Island,” said Health Services Minister George Abbott.
“Having this state-of-the art equipment in hospitals from Victoria to
Campbell River means faster, more accurate breast cancer diagnosis –
which can improve the cure rate for breast cancer patients across the
About $3 million worth of state-of-the-art digital mammography equipment
and technology will have been installed at five Vancouver Island
acute-care hospitals by November 2008.
“Ladies, don’t wait, go for your regular physical check up and
mammogram,” said Twila Woods, a breast cancer survivor of four years
from Victoria. “We all have busy lives, but what’s important is not how
busy your life is, but your health.”
“With October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, today’s announcement
drives home the importance for women to go have a mammogram, as early
detection is one of the best tools to ensure more and more women survive
breast cancer,” said Ida Chong, Minister of Technology, Trade and
Economic Development and MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head.
Digital mammography produces sharp electronic images that can be
manipulated on a computer screen to reveal greater detail. It can also
penetrate the denser breast tissue of younger women.
While breast compression is still needed for mammography, digital
equipment is faster than conventional film-based systems, reducing exam
times and radiation exposure. Speedier workflows increase the number of
exams that can be performed. Stored on computer, digital mammograms are
easy to retrieve and can be transmitted electronically from one location
to another, permitting off-line interpretation and expert consultation.
“Digital mammography is a huge step forward for patient care,” said
Murray Coell, Minister of Advanced Education and Labour Market
Development and MLA for Saanich North and the Islands. “The new
equipment raises the bar for detecting cancer and saving more women on
“One of the greatest advantages of digital mammograms is quick
accessibility at multiple sites,” said Dr. Stuart Silver, VIHA South
Island section head of breast imaging. “Images can be viewed
simultaneously by specialists throughout the health region to improve
diagnosis and provide best possible patient care.”
“With the installation of the first two digital mammography units at
Victoria General in 2005, the Vancouver Island Health Authority became
one of the first to operate this kind of equipment in a B.C. hospital,”
said Jac Kreut, VIHA board chair. “VIHA continues to be a pioneer in
breast cancer care, expanding the potential for improved breast cancer
care not just to patients in one select area but across our entire
British Columbia is a leader in cancer care and has some of the most
favourable cancer outcomes in North America, including the lowest
mortality rate and incidence rates for breast cancer. Province-wide,
over 278,000 women received a screening mammogram in 2007/08. Currently,
50 per cent of eligible women on Vancouver Island between the ages of
50-69 receive this test.