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Mammograms Go Mobile

Mobile Mammography Unit

The Nova Scotia Breast Screening Mobile Clinic makes breast screening more accessible and hope more people will access this important service.

Jennifer Gouchie-Terris · · | Posted: April 7, 2023, midnight | Updated: April 4, 2023, 2:45 p.m. | 4 Min Read

For nearly three decades, the Nova Scotia Breast Screening Mobile Clinic has been providing an invaluable service to thousands of people throughout Nova Scotia.

The Nova Scotia Breast Screening Program began in 1991 as a single fixed screening site in Halifax. In 1994, the program expanded to include mobile mammography, with a transition to a province-wide service in 2013. The Mobile has the capability of performing more than 11,000 exams per year.

According to program coordinator Nichole Halliday, screening mammograms are the key to early cancer detection, which increases the odds of less invasive treatment and better outcomes.

“We want the cancer found early so individuals have a better outcome and better results,” she says.

The mobile service travels to 30 remote geographical locations where people often find it difficult to reach one of the 11 fixed screening sites. The goal is to make it as convenient and accessible as possible for individuals to get screened.

“The Mobile travels to areas that are a little further away and allows individuals to have access to the same screening service that fixed sites have,” adds Halliday. “Some people prefer not to go to a hospital setting. They’d rather stay in their community and have their screening done where they are more comfortable.’’

The target age group for breast screening is 50-74. It is recommended that screening be done every two years for those at average risk and without any other increased risk factors; but individuals are also accepted starting at the age of 40 for self-referral. Individuals aged 40-49 and 75+ are encouraged to have a discussion with their primary health care provider to determine if screening is right for them.

“The mobile clinic is really important because the whole purpose of it is to reach communities that are further away from fixed sites,’’ adds Nova Scotia Breast Screening program manager, Trena Metcalfe. “Any mobile stop is generally 50-kilometres from a fixed site, so it’s meant to make it more accessible for people to be able to go into their community and access it. It’s also meant to be more accessible for some of our priority populations like First Nation communities and African Canadian communities.’’

Metcalfe describes the Mobile as a great alternative for people across the province. It offers the exact same screening service and equipment as fixed sites, and operates Monday through Saturday, from March until the end of November. The Mobile then returns to Sydney and operates as a stationary screening site at the regional hospital.

As a technologist who formally worked on the Mobile, Halliday has a passion for the service and encourages people to get screened. She and the technologists enjoy working with clients, meeting new people, visiting the communities, and developing a good rapport with them. They hope to create a positive experience for patients, so they return.

Metcalfe also stresses the importance of returning within the recommended interval.

“A lot of times, people think because they’ve had one screening done, that they don’t need to do more, but the purpose of returning is looking for subtle changes in breast tissue over time,” she says. “So, when people don’t return at the recommended time interval and they wait periods in between, when they come back, we might be finding something at a later stage.’’

Although mammograms are the gold standard for breast screening and the best tool available, Metcalfe admits screening isn’t always perfect. For that reason, she says the program promotes breast awareness and encourages clients to see a health care provider if any new symptoms or concerns arise, even those who recently had a normal breast screening exam.

“People often dismiss a new symptom if they’ve had a recent screening,” she says.

Wait times for the Mobile are often better than most fixed sites in the province, says Halliday. Each screening exam only takes about 15 minutes from start to finish. Approximately 60 patients can be seen each day.

Appointments for the mobile service can be made up to a year in advance by calling the province’s toll-free central screening booking office in Halifax.

To book, call the toll-free number at 1-800-565-0548 

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Nova Scotia Breast Screening Program
603L-7001 Mumford Road
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3L 2H8


Book your screening mammogram by calling:


Monday - Friday, 8:00am - 5:00pm