Skip to main content

Months-long waits for breast biopsies 'unacceptable,' says B.C. doctor


Three months after Kristina Tanner was told she needed a biopsy to determine if she had breast cancer, the procedure finally happened this week.

But the wait for the 69-year-old Vancouver resident, whose mother died of breast cancer three years ago, has been stressful.

“It’s very upsetting because it’s always hanging over you,” she said.

“You can’t help but think, what if it’s spreading as I speak?’”

Waits like the one Tanner faced have prompted Dr. Paula Gordon to sound the alarm – though it’s not something B.C.’s Ministry of Health appears interested in addressing.

Gordon, a clinical professor in UBC’s Department of Radiology, says wait times for breast biopsies are “unacceptable.”

“Of the biopsies I did this week, most of them were (waiting) in the 12- to 13-week range,” she said.

“It’s really unbearable for some women to wait any length of time, but months?”

While she said that for most women, a couple months doesn’t make a difference, for some, the time gap is critical.

“If people are waiting this long to get a necessary test when they might have a cancer – and it might even be a fast-moving cancer – then we clearly don’t have enough resources dealing with it,” she said.

Gordon is calling for more resources and more clinics to offer biopsies for patients waiting to rule our or confirm a breast cancer diagnosis.

“We’re really in trouble now, like so much else in the health-care system. They need to start working on a fix.”

CTV News began contacting the Ministry of Health Wednesday regarding the wait times. To date, the ministry has provided no response.

It’s expected that more than 4,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in B.C. this year. One in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.

Last year, Tanner needed surgery to remove pre-cancerous cells.

A mammogram in January raised new concerns and she’s been waiting for answers ever since.

Late Friday afternoon, Tanner finally received some good news: The biopsy determined the cells are benign. Top Stories

Stay Connected