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The Find It Early Act Would Enhance Breast Cancer Screening

Mar 6, 2024

Today, Clayton Park West MLA, Rafah DiCostanzo, will introduce the Find It Early Act, a bill to help address the barriers to supplementary breast cancer screening for people with dense breasts. 

DiCostanzo was diagnosed with breast cancer after finding a lump in the spring 2023 which was not detected on a previous mammogram.  

“When I discovered I had dense breasts, I was disturbed to learn that my cancer may have been picked up by supplementary screening, had that option been made available to me at the time,” said DiCostanzo. “This could have saved me from a traumatic mastectomy and the barbaric chemotherapy treatment process, which I am still feeling the effects of today.” 

In 2019, under the previous Liberal government, Nova Scotia became the second province in the country to implement breast density notification. Before this change, those with dense breasts were not made aware their breast density and the risks associated with having dense breasts.  

“People with dense breasts have a higher risk of getting breast cancer. The fatty tissue in the breast appears white on a mammogram, and so does a lump, so if you have dense breasts, you could be at greater risk of your cancer not being detected or having a prolonged diagnosis,” said DiCostanzo.  

People with Category C or D density are considered to have dense breasts. However, once they have access to this information, they are unable to access beneficial additional screening adjunct to mammography. The Find It Early Act would provide this access to eligible patients. 

“A delay in cancer detection can have important consequences because when breast cancer is found, it matters,” said DiCostanzo. “This bill will give a better quality of life to so many people.” 

Additional Quotes 

“I have been negatively impacted by lack of screening for patients with dense breasts. To think my cancer could have been less severe if they had done an ultrasound really upsets me. This bill would serve to assure women like me that we are doing the best that we can to find cancer early to avoid intensive treatments and surgery.” 

  • Cheryl Coffin, breast cancer survivor 

 

“I'm a breast cancer researcher working on new drugs for advanced breast cancer that has spread, but the best thing we can do is early detection so we don't need these drugs. Early detection saves lives and makes the quality of life for breast cancer patients so much better.” 

  • Dr. Paola Marcato, PhD, professor, Dalhousie University Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation-Atlantic Region Endowed Chair in Breast Cancer Research   

 

“As advocates for optimal breast cancer screening, Dense Breasts Canada strongly supports the introduction of this bill, which has the potential to provide access to life-saving screening for Nova Scotians. Dense breast tissue can hide cancers on mammograms, leading to delayed diagnoses and poorer outcomes. Supplemental screening is essential for detecting cancers that mammograms can miss in dense breasts. This bill is a crucial step toward ensuring that women with dense breasts have the same chance to find breast cancer early as those without dense breasts.” 

  • Jennie Dale, MBA, Cofounder/Executive Director, Dense Breasts Canada 


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