New Breast Cancer Detection Unit In Smithers

The Bulkley Valley District Hospital in Smithers is the last hospital in BC to switch over from x-ray to digital photography when it comes to detecting breast cancer.

"It's obvious from the group here today that this has been a community effort. Everyone came together to make this happen." Debbie Courtliff said.

She's a member of the Smithers Breast Health Advisory Group. The group brought people from the community together, frequently advocating and lobbying for improved breast cancer detection facilities in Smithers.

"Local lobbying efforts are incredibly important, sometimes people get cynical and don't think it makes a difference. In this case, it's a good example to speak up for what you think is important in your community." Said Doug Donaldson, the MLA for Stikine.

This is the last hospital in BC to switch over from x-ray to digital photography when it comes to detecting breast cancer. The brand new unit was provided through the Provincial Health Authority and hospital staff say breast exams will now be quicker and more comfortable for the patient, easier for the technician.

"It's wonderful for not only the Smithers community but the surrounding communities to have this state of the art digital technology. It's an important part of women's health and wellness and we are trying to make it really accessible across the province." Said Nancy Aldoff, who is a part of BC Cancer's Mammography Program.

In BC, 35- hundred women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year.

Women are recommended to have a mammogram every two years, and every year for those with close relatives that have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

"The screening mammography program is for women forty and over. It's self referral so no doctor referral is needed, it's just a matter of picking up the phone and calling the 1-800 number" Aldoff continued.

Hospital staff are advising women to book a mammogram months in advance due to overwhelming interest in the new facilities.