Monitoring and evaluation of breast cancer screening quality indicators

Breast cancer screening performance across provinces and territories

50 year old woman at lake

This digital report presents the monitoring results of breast cancer screening activities across Canada from 2018 to 2021 (timeframe varies by indicator). The findings presented in this report are intended to:

  • support shared learning across the breast cancer screening system in Canada
  • optimize the quality and delivery of breast cancer screening programs

The data captured in this report represents the state of breast cancer screening before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic brought some unprecedented changes in the healthcare system, including the suspension of breast cancer screening services for several months. While screening has resumed, the impact of the pandemic has been far reaching, including a potential surge in breast cancer diagnosis beyond pre-pandemic levels,1 which could increase the pressure on the cancer diagnosis and treatment system.

Looking to the future

breast screening modalities

Monitoring and evaluating the indicators in this report will support a better understanding of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on breast cancer screening and how the system is moving forward with recovery.

  • A guidance document on the management of cancer screening services during the COVID-19 pandemic, developed by the Partnership in collaboration with the Canadian cancer screening community, outlines recommendations and equity-based strategies to support building resilient screening services.
  • Additionally, the Breast cancer screening in Canada: 2021-22 environmental scan reports on innovative tools and processes implemented by jurisdictions to support COVID-19 recovery with a focus on screening participation among First Nations, Inuit, and Métis and other underscreened populations.

Related content

This report represents a point in time view which involved retrospective data collection from the years 2018-21 (varies by indicator). This report does not include data for the 40-49 age cohort and breast screening due to limited data availability at the time of data collection. We recognize that the breast screening landscape is in a state of change with some jurisdictions lowering their routine screening age to begin at age 40 or 45. For the most current information on jurisdictional and territorial screening programs, please contact the cancer screening program directly or refer to their website.

This report focuses on the years prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, a pandemic recovery lens was applied throughout the report to contextualize the data presented. We acknowledge the landscape has since changed, with many jurisdictions catching up to pre-pandemic screening volumes and employing strategies to ensure screening is up to date for eligible individuals. The 2022-23 breast screening environmental scan will be released in summer 2024, providing an updated view on jurisdictional breast screening programs and practices.

  1. Yong JH, Mainprize JG, Yaffe MJ, et al. The impact of episodic screening interruption: COVID-19 and population-based cancer screening in Canada. Journal of Medical Screening. 2021;28(2):100-107. doi:10.1177/0969141320974711