Alberta Health Services aims to step up cancer screening and awareness

The province is stepping up its efforts to fight cancer in Alberta by increasing screening and trying to do more surgeries.

Alberta is the first province to lower the recommended age for breast cancer screening from 50 to 45. Alberta Health Services (AHS) predicts that 12,000 more mammograms could be performed each year.

“Lowering the age for breast cancer screening in Alberta is exactly one of the initiatives that we are pivoting on,” said AHS research scientist Miranda Fidler-Benaoudia.

She also leads a research project on cancer in adolescents and young adults.

« By detecting these cancers at an earlier stage, we also reduce the likelihood of a child losing their mother or a family becoming financially unstable. »

Earlier this fall, AHS also launched a lung cancer screening pilot using CT scans, which was available to 3,000 patients.

Home testing kits and mobile mammography clinics are also part of the provincial health authority’s efforts.

« Cancer treatment and care remains one of our top priorities, » spokesperson Kerry Williamson said in a statement.

In 2021, 182,000 Albertans were living with cancer. Just over 19,000 were new diagnoses that year, according to government health statistics.

Catch it early

“There have been remarkable breakthroughs in the field of cancer over the past decade. Better treatments, new technologies emerging, but the best way to treat cancer is to catch it early,” said Wendy Beauchesne, CEO of the Alberta Cancer Foundation. .

The foundation is the fundraising partner for all 17 AHS Cancer Centers. Beauchesne said the demand for financial support and other forms of assistance is at an all-time high.

« We know Albertans want the best treatment as close to home as possible. »

Cancer surgeries also reached 22,500 in the last fiscal year. AHS said this represents an increase of more than 12% over pre-pandemic surgery levels.

Work is also continuing at the $1.4 billion Calgary Cancer Centre. The establishment will have 160 hospital beds, more than 100 chemotherapy chairs and 12 radiotherapy rooms. The center is expected to open in 2024.


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