St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital is now a Fully Accredited Breast Assessment Program

Published On: August 27, 2019

STEGH has received formal recognition by Cancer Care Ontario as a breast assessment program. This means, STEGH joins 70 centres across the province that offer a complete complement of services in the prevention, detection and treatment of breast cancer.

STEGH has been an Ontario Breast Screening Program site since 1999. “The recent acknowledgement by the province as a formal assessment centre reaffirms our commitment to the local community in offering high quality care close to home,” says Yolanda Mundt, Manager of Diagnostic Imaging at STEGH. “Women in St. Thomas and Elgin County can feel confident receiving care in St. Thomas, from mammography and ultrasound to breast biopsy. For those that require surgery and chemotherapy, we offer that here too.”

STEGH’s Breast Assessment Program is accredited through the Canadian Association of Radiologists (CAR) Mammography Accreditation Program. As an accredited site, patients can be assured that they are receiving the highest quality of care. CAR evaluates the qualifications of staff, the performance of equipment, image quality, as well as quality control and quality assurance programs.

A key role to the success of the program is the Breast Health Navigator. The Navigator guides patients through each step of their journey to ensure patients with abnormal breast results receive timely access to coordinated care – all at STEGH.

St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital recently renovated their mammography suite and, thanks to the generosity of local donors, has acquired a second mammography unit. This unit is equipped for contrast mammography, which allows clinicians to accurately diagnose the extent of cancer. The impact for patients is significant, as it is a tool to help make sure that dense tissue is not hiding a tumour.

The updated equipment at STEGH allows for both stereotactic (mammography guided) and ultrasound biopsy. These non-invasive procedures help guide the radiologist to the abnormality using state-of-the-art biopsy equipment to evaluate calcium deposits or masses detected during regular screening. If needed, STEGH has five surgeons on staff that are able to assist in expediting the patient journey.

“When comprehensive, high-quality, multidisciplinary assessment is integrated with screening, the average time to diagnosis is reduced and patients are able to receive more timely access to care,” says Brenda Fleming, Director for the South West Regional Cancer Program. “STEGH has been providing high-quality breast screening and follow-up care in their community for the last 20 years and we’re thrilled they are now recognized as an official breast assessment site.”

Regular breast cancer screening is important because it can find breast cancers when they are small, less likely to have spread and more likely to be treated successfully.

The Ontario Breast Screening Program recommends that most women ages 50 to 74 get screened every two years with mammography. Women ages 30 to 69 who are confirmed to be at high risk of getting breast cancer should be screened once a year with a mammogram and breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (or screening breast ultrasound if MRI is not medically appropriate).

Women are encouraged to speak with their healthcare provider about their breast screening options.

Photo (LT to RT): Sharon Keenan (patient partner and breast cancer survivor) and Yolanda Mundt (Manager of Diagnostic Imaging) pose in front of the new mammography unit.