The few minutes it takes to screen for women’s cancers could be lifesaving
The Scarborough Hospital (TSH), in partnership with the Central East Regional Cancer Program, is asking women to put their health and well-being first by booking a mammogram and pap test this month.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and National Cervical Cancer Awareness Week is October 17 to 21. More than 9,000 women in Ontario will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. One in 150 women will develop cervical cancer. The “Because Your Family Matters” campaign highlights the importance of screening for women’s cancers.
“As women, we sometimes get so focused on caring for others we forget that caring for ourselves is important to our families, too,” says Dr. Onye Nnorom, Regional Primary Care and Screening Lead for the Central East Regional Cancer Program. “We want women who are overdue for a mammogram or pap test to make screening a regular part of what they do to stay healthy, because their health and well-being matters – and it matters to the people around them as well.”
Women aged 50 to 74 who are at average risk for breast cancer should have a mammogram every two years. Women who are over the age of 21 who are — or have ever been — sexually active should screen for cervical cancer by having a pap test every three years.
“Screening for women’s cancers is quick, easy, and it’s free – and it can save your life,” says Dr. Nathan Roth, Cervical Screening and Colposcopy Lead for the Central East Regional Cancer Program and Co-Medical Director of the Maternal Newborn and Child Care program at TSH. “Cervical cancer is almost entirely preventable with regular screening. A pap test is a simple test that can be done at your family doctor’s office, a walk-in clinic, or sexual health clinic if you don’t have a doctor.”
Dr. Nnorom adds that “The average mammogram takes just five minutes to book and less than 10 minutes to complete. Having a regular mammogram can detect breast cancer early when it is most treatable. So, talk to your health care provider today about getting screened.”
Cancer Care Ontario has named Thursday, October 20 as the provincial Day of the Mammogram with Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) sites in the Central East Region and across Ontario offering expanded hours of operation and inviting more walk-in appointments that day to increase screening participation.
On October 20, women who are OBSP-eligible and are at average risk for breast cancer can have a screening mammogram performed without making an appointment in advance at TSH’s CIBC Breast Diagnostic Assessment Unit (DAU) from 8 a.m. to 6:15 p.m.
The following groups of women are eligible for a mammogram through the OBSP:
- Women aged 50 to 74 years who are at average risk for breast cancer. Women are considered eligible for the average risk program if they show no signs of acute breast cancer symptoms, have no personal history of breast cancer, have no current breast implants, and have not had a mammogram within the last 11 months.
- Women aged 30 to 69 years who are identified as being at high risk for breast cancer. Starting at age 30, women who may be at high risk for breast cancer can be referred by their health care provider to Ontario’s High Risk Breast Screening Program based on their family or medical history.
For more information about mammograms, or the OBSP, women can call 1-800-668-9304, or visit www.cancercare.on.ca/justbookit.
Women can call their doctor to book their pap test, or visit www.cancercare.on.ca/paptest to find a clinic near them.