October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the Northeast Regional Cancer Centre, in partnership with Cancer Care Ontario, is encouraging women between the ages of 50 and 74 to talk with their health care providers about getting screened regularly with a mammogram.
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in Canadian women, affecting 1 in 8 in her lifetime. Regular Screening aims to detect cancer as early as possible, before symptoms appear.
“Early detection saved my life,” says 63 year old Denise Morin. “I was screened at the Ontario Breast Screening Program in Sudbury and required further tests due to the results of my mammogram. The outcome was a diagnosis of a very aggressive type of breast cancer that was caught early and I was treated immediately. In my opinion the program works and all eligible women should get screened.”
In 2018, more than 11,700 women were diagnosed with the disease in Ontario and 1,977 women lost their lives to breast cancer. However, for women ages 50 to 69, one death is prevented for every 721 women who get regular mammograms. But there is room for improvement when it comes to screening rates in Northern Ontario.
“While we know regular screening is effective, we still have a lot of work to do to convince more women to get regular mammograms,” says Dr. Raveen Kaur, Regional Breast Imaging Lead for Northeastern Ontario. “Last year in Northeastern Ontario, close to 100,000 women were eligible for screening, but only 63% participated. We need to do better.”
Women, aged 50 to 74, who don’t have a family history of breast cancer and are at average risk should be screened every two years with mammography. Making an appointment is easy since a referral is not needed. Women can simply call 1-800-668-9304 to make an appointment at any of the 13 Northeastern Ontario Breast Screening Program locations or by going to www.cancercare.on.ca
Women who do have a family history of breast cancer are encouraged to discuss their screening options with their family doctor or nurse practitioner.