Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Cancer-treatment breakthrough

Diagnostic tool part of plan to cut waiting periods

  • Print

Manitoba doctors will be able to treat some forms of breast cancer five weeks sooner than they do now because of a new diagnostic tool unveiled on Tuesday.

The machine will eliminate the need to send away hundreds of tissue samples to Ontario each year for analysis.

Health Minister Theresa Oswald told a news conference at St. Boniface General Hospital Tuesday the new device will play an important role in a $40-million strategy, unveiled in June 2011, to reduce wait times for cancer treatment. The strategy, based on a British model, seeks to reduce the time from when a general practitioner suspects a patient has cancer to the beginning of treatment to under 60 days.

"This is a game-changer here in Manitoba for a very specific kind of breast cancer," Oswald said of the new molecular technology that will shrink the wait time to diagnose some of the most aggressive forms of breast cancer and dictate which drugs should be used in treatment.

Jim Slater, chief executive officer of Diagnostic Services of Manitoba (DSM), said the new diagnostic technology is the future in cancer-tissue analysis. "By bringing this state-of-the-art test home, we are able to provide high-quality testing procedures to assist in patient care and cut the wait time for results from six weeks down to approximately one week for the hundreds of Manitobans who (need it each year)."

The new machine, which cost $125,000, is used to conduct a secondary test following an initial diagnosis of breast cancer. In about 25 to 30 per cent of breast cancer cases, further testing is required to detect and analyze a specific protein called HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor) to identify which treatment would be the most effective. That testing will now all be done in Winnipeg.

The diagnostic device unveiled Tuesday received regulatory approval in 2012. DSM purchased the technology and its staff underwent intensive training over nine months before the machine came into service earlier this year.

Quick, accurate diagnostic tests are crucial to the patient -- and cost-effective for the taxpayer.

Dr. Dhali Dhaliwal, president and CEO of CancerCare Manitoba, said a drug used to treat one aggressive form of breast cancer can cost up to $60,000 to administer. "So you really do not want to give it to those who will not benefit," he said.

Meanwhile, Oswald also announced the province will begin this year to convert its 20 analog mammography machines -- including two mobile ones -- to digital technology. This will speed testing and make it easier for doctors to consult with specialists. Officials did not have a cost estimate for the new mammography machines on Tuesday.

The Opposition Tories said it's about time the province adopted the new digital technology. "We have been calling on this NDP government to introduce digital mammography in Manitoba for six years," Conservative health critic Cameron Friesen said.

"While other provinces began embracing this new technology years ago, our health minister allowed Manitoba to lag behind," he said, adding Manitoba is the last province to introduce digital mammography in breast cancer screening programs.

Each year, more than 6,100 Manitobans are diagnosed with cancer. Up to 10 times that number are suspected of having cancer and undergo testing before it is ruled out.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 6, 2013 A4

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Jets vs. Ducks Game 2 promo

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Susan and Gary Harrisonwalk their dog Emma on a peaceful foggy morning in Assiniboine Park – Standup photo– November 27, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • JJOE.BRYKSA@FREEPRESS.MB.CA Local-Postcard  Day-Horror frost and fog created a most beautiful setting at Assiniboine Park Thursday morning in WInnipeg- Enviroent Canada says the fog will lifet this morning and will see a high of -7C-  JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS- Feb 18, 2010

View More Gallery Photos


Do you agree with the sale of the Canadian Wheat Board to foreign companies?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google