06/26/2015 09:12 EDT | Updated 06/26/2016 05:59 EDT

Brandon first to get digital mammography in Manitoba; will speed up diagnoses

WINNIPEG - Manitoba is bringing in digital mammography after years of delay.

Health Minister Sharon Blady says it will reduce diagnostic wait time and bring new technology to detect breast cancer.

With digital mammography, images are viewed on a workstation monitor and stored electronically rather than transferred to film.

Blady says images captured in one region will be available to radiologists working in another, helping speed up turnaround times and diagnoses that may lead to faster treatment if needed.

Brandon Regional Hospital will be the first in the province to get the new technology in September, while Blady says others will get theirs between October and April 2016.

Manitoba is the last province to bring in digital mammography — there were plans to start converting analog machines last year but IT issues were blamed for the delay.

Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer among women in Manitoba with almost 900 diagnosed each year.

The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation encourages women to be screened digitally because it is better at detecting breast cancer.

About 90,000 Manitobans have a mammogram every year. Approximately 50,000 are screening mammograms through the CancerCare Manitoba's BreastCheck program.

"Digital mammography is a significant advancement in our technology for the detection of breast cancer," said Dr. Sri Navaratnam, president and chief executive officer, CancerCare Manitoba.

(CJOB, The Canadian Press)