Breast cancer has one of the highest survival rates of all cancer types in Ontario
by Sara Chow
More women in Northwestern Ontario need to get screened
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, in partnership with Cancer Care Ontario, is encouraging Ontario women ages 50 to 74 to talk to their primary care provider about getting checked for breast cancer.
In Ontario, breast cancer usually develops later in life, with over 83 per cent of cases being diagnosed in women over age 50. Research shows that women ages 50 to 74 who get checked regularly with mammography can lower their chances of dying from breast cancer. When caught early, almost all women will survive..
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in Ontario women. Every year, about 12,000 Ontario women will get breast cancer and about 2,000 will die from it.
“Getting screened regularly with mammography is important,” said Dr. Nicole Zavagnin, Regional Primary Care Lead for Cancer Care Ontario at our Hospital. “Mammograms can find breast cancer early, when it may be smaller and less likely to have spread to other parts of the body. Treatment may also have a better chance of working when breast cancer is found early.”
The Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) provides breast cancer screening throughout Ontario to two groups of women. The OBSP recommends that:
- Most women ages 50 to 74 get checked every two years with mammography.
- Women ages 30 to 69 who are confirmed to be at high risk for breast cancer get checked once a year with both a mammogram and breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (or screening breast ultrasound if MRI is not medically appropriate) through the High Risk Ontario Breast Screening Program (High Risk OBSP).
- Women ages 70 to 74 who are confirmed to be at high risk for breast cancer get checked once a year with a mammogram through the High Risk OBSP.
“Mammograms are the gold standard for screening for breast cancer. Your appointment will take approximately 15 minutes, and most women experience only minor discomfort. Making sure your mammogram is up-to-date is an important part of breast cancer screening,” encouraged Dr. Zavagnin.
In Northwestern Ontario, mammogram screening participation rates have reached a plateau between 60 to 62%. “Breast cancer screening with mammography is a service available to all eligible women in Ontario, and mammograms can be booked without a health care provider’s referral.”
In our region, mammograms are offered at 5 permanent locations and via 1 mobile service:
- Fort Frances: Riverside Health Care, call (807) 274-4804.
- Kenora: Lake of the Woods District Hospital, call 1-800-461-7031.
- Sioux Lookout: Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre, call (807) 737-6579.
- Thunder Bay: The Linda Buchan Centre at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (call (807) 684-7777 or 1-800-461-7031) or Thunder Bay Diagnostics (call (807) 683-4411).
- Screen for Life Coach: a mobile cancer screening service that travels across our region in the warmer months and offers its services in Thunder Bay over the winter. Call (807) 684-7777 or 1-800-461-7031.
Talk to your family doctor or nurse practitioner about your breast cancer screening options. To learn more, visit www.tbrhsc.net/cancerscreening.