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BRCA cancer screening

What are my breast cancer screening options?

Screening for breast cancer in female BRCA carriers in Ontario is completed through the High Risk Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP). Screening includes yearly mammogram and breast MRI starting at age 30 until age 69. After age 69 women receive annual mammogram only. It is important to note that breast MRI cannot be done during pregnancy and will resume 4-6 months after breastfeeding.

At Sunnybrook female BRCA carriers may be followed yearly in our Breast High Risk Program. This may start at age 25 where visits consist of clinical breast exams until age 30. At age 30, women are eligible for mammogram and breast MRI imaging through the High Risk OBSP.

Screening for breast cancer in male BRCA carriers is not standardized and includes an early clinical breast exam. Your treating doctor may also request mammograms at their discretion.

What are my ovarian cancer screening options?

Screening for ovarian cancer in BRCA carriers includes pelvic exam, transvaginal ultrasound and CA-125 blood testing. Unfortunately, these screening options have not proven to detect ovarian cancer at an early stage. It is important to speak with your family doctor or oncologist regarding which ovarian cancer management option is best for you.

What are my prostate cancer screening options?

Screening for prostate cancer in BRCA carriers includes digital rectal examination (DRE) and a PSA blood test starting at age 40. PSA screening at age 40 is meant to establish a baseline value that can be used in the future as a reference point.

At Sunnybrook male BRCA carriers may be followed yearly in out Familial Prostate Cancer Clinic. Although we start screening men at age 40, men under age 40 are welcomed to be referred for a one-time appointment. Clinic visits include PSA screening and physical examination of breast tissue and the prostate. Men may also choose to be involved in our Male Oncology Research and Education (MORE) Program and participate in ongoing research studies.

What are my melanoma screening options?

Screening for melanoma in BRCA carriers includes a yearly skin examination by a dermatologist. All BRCA carriers at Sunnybrook have the option of being referred to the Sunnybrook Pigmented Skin and Lesion clinic for skin exams.

If any changes in skin are noticed, it is important to make your physician aware. Learning what to look for and checking skin can help detect melanoma early.

What are my pancreatic cancer screening options?

There is no good screening option for pancreatic cancer in BRCA carriers. Historically the CA19-9 blood testing has been used but this form of screening has not proven to detect pancreatic cancer at an early stage.

View more information and resources


  • What type of cancer screening is advised for women at high risk?
  • What kinds of surgery can reduce the risk of breast cancer for women at high risk?
  • How do I decide about having surgery or not?
  • Do provincial healthcare programs cover these surgeries?
  • Are there any drugs available that can reduce the risk of breast cancer for women at high risk?

Cancer Care Ontario

  • OBSP screening for women at high risk
  • Who is eligible for high risk breast cancer screening?
  • Where to get high risk breast cancer screening

Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation – Ontario

  • Detecting Breast Cancer Earlier
  • Assessing Personal Risk
  • Mammography
  • Breast Screening Technology

Ovarian Cancer Canada

  • Existing Tests
  • Diagnosing Ovarian Cancer

Prostate Cancer Canada

  • PSA Test
  • Digital Rectal Exam
  • Biopsy
  • Grading
  • Staging

Canadian Cancer Society

  • Finding prostate cancer
  • Tests for prostate cancer
  • Normal PSA levels by age

Melanoma Network of Canada

  • How to Check Your Skin
  • What to Look for on Your Skin
  • The ABCDE’s of Melanoma

Pancreatic Cancer Canada

  • About Pancreatic Cancer

Contact information

For any questions related to content on this page, or if you would like to see any additional topics discussed, please contact the Cancer Genetics and High Risk Department

Phone: 416-480-6835

Fax: 416-480-5859

Email: occ.genetics@