Mr. Speaker, I am certainly pleased to be speaking in support of Bill C-314, regarding dense breast tissue and the importance of breast cancer screening.
The bill was introduced by our colleague, the hon. member for Barrie. I would like to thank him for bringing it forward. When it comes to his health, this member is certainly putting his money where his mouth is. He is constantly ensuring that he is staying in the shape he needs to be in to be able to do his work.
In fact, as many of us know, the Toronto marathon was held over the weekend, and the member for Barrie competed, running a tremendous marathon and coming in one minute short of being able to qualify for the Boston marathon. Bringing this bill forward speaks highly of this member.
This bill puts a spotlight on an important issue. Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among women in Canada. There are a number of risk factors associated with breast cancer, and dense breast tissue is a significant one.
Greater awareness of this risk is needed. Bill C-314 calls for exactly that, for expanding awareness of breast cancer screening for women with dense breast tissue. It is well established that early detection through breast screening can save lives.
By supporting this bill, we can make a difference in the lives of many Canadians. As noted in the bill, Canadian women will benefit from increased awareness of the challenges related to breast cancer screening for women with dense breast tissue. An important aspect of the bill is that it is dedicated to improving collaboration with partners to improve and share information on breast cancer screening with women and their doctors.
Bill C-314 will complement several current government actions supported by other partner organizations on cancer, breast cancer and breast cancer screening in our country. It is a priority for our government. Every single year, millions of Canadians are affected by cancer, either personally in terms of being subjected to the disease or by the experience of a family member or a friend or neighbour.
One in nine women in Canada will develop breast cancer during their lifetime. I am sure all of us who sit in the chamber today know a relative, friend or neighbour who has been affected and how stressful an experience it can actually be.
Early detection through organized screening programs is a key public health practice. It can protect women from breast cancer and the emotional, financial and personal costs that can often be associated with the disease.
Breast cancer screening can find cancer even when there may not be symptoms. The goal is to find breast cancer early, when it is small and less likely to have spread to other parts of the body. The most common method of breast cancer screening is a mammogram, which uses X-rays to take pictures of the internal structure of the breast.
For women with dense breast tissue it can be more difficult to detect small changes in the tissue that could be cancer, because both dense tissue and tumours appear as white space. This is why it is important for women in Canada and health professionals to be well informed so that they are able to discuss and make the best decisions around dense breast tissue screening.
Through better sharing of information and raised awareness of the risks presented by dense breast tissue, early detection through organized screening programs can help women in Canada by catching cancer at an early stage.
Our continued progress on cancer prevention and control relies on working across sectors, jurisdictions and organizations. The government has invested in partnerships that promote optimal screening, working with provinces and territories that deliver the services and with partner organizations.
Together we want to improve screening and early detection and to provide desperately needed information to women. That is exactly what Bill C-314 calls for: an assurance that we are doing all that we can with what we have to increase awareness and to assist health care providers and women in making well-informed screening decisions.
The bill's preamble recognizes that we are taking action related to screening through a number of initiatives. This bill reinforces our commitment and action on prevention, detection and control. It acknowledges the work this government does through the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Canadian breast cancer screening initiative. The knowledge and information generated through these initiatives is then shared with doctors and networks that include health organizations.
The central initiative supported by the government to fight cancer is the Canadian strategy for cancer control. It is a coordinated, comprehensive strategy that was developed with governments, non-governmental cancer organizations, cancer survivors, researchers and health care professionals.
The government created and provides funding to the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer to lead the implementation of the Canadian strategy for cancer control in collaboration with provincial and territorial governments and non-governmental organizations.
The Partnership Against Cancer is an independent, not for profit organization whose work is focused on prevention, early detection, treatment and support for Canadians who live with cancer.
Screening and early detection is one of the main priorities of the strategy. Breast density and its implications for cancer screening are part of this strategic priority.
The Partnership Against Cancer has done much to ensure that cancer patients and doctors across Canada have state of the art knowledge about what works to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer. It has encouraged hard to reach populations, such as newcomers to Canada, rural Canadians and people with disabilities, to undergo screening. This work has helped doctors to identify cancer at a much earlier time in an individual's life.
The government's cancer strategy is about people making a difference by working together and learning from each other so that Canadians, no matter where they live, can benefit.
One of the main resources offered by the federal government is the cancer view portal. This is a convenient single window for information for Canadians on cancer issues, including breast cancer screening. Cancer view connects Canadians to quality cancer resources. It provides tools to health professionals, patients and families, and it links people in the Canadian cancer community with each other.
To ensure that the valuable work of the partnership continues, the government has renewed its funding from 2012 to the 2017 fiscal year, providing up to $250 million over that period of time. It is not the amount that is important, it is what the funding enables the Partnership Against Cancer to continue to do, and that is to raise awareness and provide the tools that strengthen prevention. It is important work aimed at reducing the number of new cases of cancer, increasing the likelihood of Canadians surviving cancer and improving a patient's quality of life. Its activities cover a wide range of areas, from cancer control and prevention to palliative and end of life care.
The federal government also makes significant investments in research, surveillance and education, focused on preventing and reducing cancer.
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research is at the centre of the government's research efforts. It provides more effective diagnostics, better treatment and more efficient prevention strategies for all cancers, including breast cancer.
Research investments in this area are supporting Canadian scientists and they are helping to fill critical knowledge gaps in our understanding about breast cancer.
In addition to searching for a cure, Canadian medical researchers are also helping to reduce the burden of cancer on individuals and families by providing information to develop prevention strategies.
CIHR's Institute of Cancer Research is leading an international imaging initiative in personalized medicine and this initiative includes breast cancer as a focus. Such scientific research is helping to improve screening in health care settings and contributes to building understanding about early diagnosis, as well as access to better quality cancer care.
Bill C-314also highlights the importance of providing women and their doctors with the information they need to make decisions that affect and impact their health. The government is taking steps to increase awareness, to fund research and to provide information to Canadians about cancer prevention and early detection.
In addition to the good work already mentioned, the federal government is promoting education and makes information and resources available to communities across our country through the Canadian breast cancer initiative.
The community capacity building program is a key component of the Canadian breast cancer initiative. The community capacity building program supports organizations and provinces and territories to network with provincial and community breast cancer groups. This cross-Canada collaboration enables the sharing of best practices and ensures that information and supports are available for women with breast cancer.
Together, they regularly assess new information about screening to improve programs and to ensure that women have the full benefit of early detection. By raising awareness around breast density, we are also encouraging this important practice. It is essential to have the right information about dense breast tissue in order to determine the best screening method.
The government is engaged in cancer prevention research and education. We are raising awareness about the many health issues faced by Canadians. Clearly, we all have a role to play in the fight against breast cancer.
The member for Barrie understands, as does this House and this government, that this bill ensures the federal government will continue to raise awareness through existing initiatives about the challenges related to breast cancer screening for women with dense breast tissue.
Bill C-314 is another step forward for Canada in tackling breast cancer. I ask all members of the House to support this very important bill.