Comprehensive Breast Assessment Available in Strathroy

Woman screening for breast cancer
Monday, May 9, 2016

The Ontario Breast Screening Program screening site, located at the Strathroy Middlesex General Hospital (SMGH), has successfully attained Breast Assessment Program (BAP) status by Cancer Care Ontario.  

Ten percent of women who undergo breast cancer screening will be called back for further tests and follow-up. The path that women follow from the time they find out they may have a breast problem, or abnormality, until the time they receive a definitive diagnosis is called “breast assessment.” 

Strathroy is now equipped to provide timely, high quality diagnosis and follow-up. The SMGH program offers full assessment including biopsies on site with the same radiologists who oversee the St. Joseph’s Health Care London Breast Assessment Program.   

“This is great news for women in the area, who will now be able to receive comprehensive, high-quality, multi-disciplinary assessment services closer to home,” says Dr. Olga Shmuilovich, SMGH BAP Program Lead.  “Breast health navigators play a key role in our new program to minimize anxiety for the patient. They coordinate appointments to lessen wait time, and ensure patients receive the information and emotional support they need." 

SMGH performs 4,000 mammograms per year, and it is estimated that over 600 patients per year will benefit from the additional assessment services.  Complex cases requiring MRI will still be referred to St. Joseph’s Health Care London. 

Although the focus of the program is to increase access and decrease “diagnostic” wait times, SMGH has also enhanced the service to expedite surgical treatment. A navigator ensures all surgical referrals are facilitated, and promotes SMGH surgical services as an option to referring physicians. There is a heightened awareness and priority attention to wait times for oncology cases.  SMGH surgeons have committed to a surgical consultation within five business days of receiving a referral for a malignant case. Improved availability of operating room time and surgeon flexibility has consistently reduced the wait time for surgery. Improvements have maintained the wait times for surgery well below the provincial wait target of 28 days, and increased the number of surgical referrals over 40% from the previous year. 

“I am very pleased that SMGH is now able to offer a complete Breast Assessment Program (BAP) through collaboration with Cancer Care Ontario,” states Todd Stepanuik, President & CEO, Middlesex Hospital Alliance.  “This designation affords MHA the opportunity to offer a complete program to our patients closer to home."

The new and improved technology necessary to provide BAP services in Strathroy was made possible thanks to generous donations from the community to the SMGH Foundation campaign, “Hasten the Diagnosis, Simplify the Journey ."