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Out-of-Province Breast Cancer Diagnostic Procedures Initiative

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) and Ministry of Health are taking action to improve diagnostic breast health services in Saskatchewan with immediate priority focus on addressing current waitlists.

The highest-risk patients have been identified and are receiving diagnostic care here in Saskatchewan. However, to address the immediate needs of those requiring urgent care as well as the current backlog in breast cancer diagnostic services, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health will immediately begin offering an out-of-province initiative to cover the cost of diagnostic procedures at a private diagnostic facility in Calgary for patients requiring urgent breast diagnostic services.

Eligible Saskatchewan patients waiting for urgent diagnostic mammograms and breast biopsies will be triaged by health-care providers and contacted by the Saskatchewan Health Authority to undergo thorough screening and confirm interest in the program.

Patients identified as eligible and who agree to travel to Calgary will have the option to access the out-of-province diagnostic services according to their level of urgency as determined by clinical evaluation. Patients that already meet the clinical criteria for urgent diagnostic mammography or breast biopsy will receive first priority for service in Saskatchewan or Alberta.

The Ministry of Health will reimburse the travel and accommodation expenses for eligible patients prioritized for access to the out-of-province breast cancer diagnostic services and one support person to a maximum of $1,500 and will cover the medical expenses associated with the procedure(s).

As of May 3, 2024, a total of 272 patients have been referred to the clinic in Calgary, and approximately 201 have already had their diagnostic procedures completed.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the out-of-province breast assessment program?

To address the backlog, the Government of Saskatchewan has announced eligible patients currently on the waitlist will have access to diagnostic mammograms and/or breast biopsy at a private radiology centre in Calgary.

What is the criteria to participate?

In order to be considered for participation in the program, eligible patients will be identified through clinical assessment and contacted directly. To participate in the program, patients must confirm they are able and willing to travel. In addition, eligible participants must meet clinical criteria to ensure their physical condition would not prevent them from travelling to Calgary to access the service.

The Ministry of Health will reimburse the travel and accommodation expenses for eligible patients and one support person to a maximum of $1,500 and will cover the medical expenses associated with the procedure(s).

How long will the out-of-province breast assessment program be available?

This program is expected to be a temporary initiative to immediately address the current backlog of patients waiting for breast cancer diagnostic procedures. It is anticipated there will remain a need to continue to send some patients to Calgary until additional breast radiologists are recruited to Saskatchewan.

How long will I be in Calgary?

The amount of time spent in Calgary will be dependent on the type of procedure you are scheduled to receive. If you are referred for a diagnostic mammogram, you may be asked to wait for the results and remain in Calgary for a breast biopsy, if necessary, with the intent that both the mammogram and biopsy occur on the same day.

If a second procedure is added, the total clinic time may range between three and four hours. All procedures are completed the same day. Overnight stays at the facility delivering your procedure are not required. The radiology centre will do its best to schedule your procedure to accommodate the dates and times that work for you.

Most procedures are completed the same day. Overnight stays at the facility delivering your procedure are not required, but in rare cases you may need to stay in Calgary overnight for additional testing the following day.

How long will it take before I know if I will be able to access the out-of-province breast assessment program?

Once the Saskatchewan Health Authority has contacted you and confirmed your eligibility and interest in the program, and collected all of the needed information, you will be added to a list of potential participants. The Calgary radiology centre will then contact you within a couple of days.

If your medical information is complete and you are able to coordinate travel and make arrangements for your accommodations, your appointment will be scheduled relatively quickly and you can expect to travel to Calgary very soon.

When will I know that I have been accepted to participate?

Your acceptance is confirmed when you are offered an appointment by the radiology centre in Calgary. It is important not to book your travel or accommodations until you have received a confirmed appointment date.

How much will travel and accommodations cost?

Travel costs can vary widely according to the location you are travelling from and your chosen method of travel. You will be required to bring a support person with you and will need to consider their travel and accommodation expenses as well. The Ministry of Health will reimburse travel expenses to a maximum of $1,500 for patients participating in this program.

What happens before and after my appointment?

A women’s health expert from the Radiology Clinic in Calgary will contact you directly to provide you with these details.

Can I change my mind?

Participation in this program is voluntary. You may withdraw at any time. If you withdraw before you accept an appointment date, you will keep your place on the waitlist in Saskatchewan.

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