Oct 12, 2022

By Jeremy Logan

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The Ontario Medical Association says about 400,000 fewer mammograms to screen for breast cancer than forecast were performed in the province during the pandemic.

Although screenings have since returned to normal levels, the organization is warning that the temporary decline in testing has led to cases of breast cancer that were more advanced at the time of diagnosis prompting concern that there are undiagnosed cases in Ontarians.

It says about half of breast cancer cases diagnosed at the Ottawa Hospital before the pandemic were detected through mammogram screening, but that number decreased to less than one-third during the pandemic.

About 71% of patients were diagnosed at the Ottawa Hospital after presenting with symptoms of breast cancer during COVID-19.

The associations says survival rates of women with breast cancer decline if the detection of the disease is delayed.

It says wait times for treatment in Ontario, including surgeries, are currently longer than provincial guidelines, which is leading to poorer health outcomes, and also increased anxiety among patients.

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