October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and The Scarborough Hospital (TSH), in partnership with the Central East Regional Cancer Program and Cancer Care Ontario, is inviting eligible women aged 50 to 54 to ‘Just Book It’ by scheduling their mammogram appointments.
“At TSH, our CIBC Breast Diagnostic Assessment Unit (DAU) provides timely access to screening, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment for all breast abnormalities,” says Sari Greenwood, Regional Director of the Central East Regional Cancer Program, and Patient Care Director, Oncology and Palliative Care at TSH.
“We strive to provide our patients with culturally sensitive care and a warm and welcoming environment that respects the need for dignity and privacy.”
The average mammogram screening takes just five minutes to book and less than 10 minutes to complete. This year’s ‘Just Book It’ campaign will focus on increasing screening participation among the 50 to 54 age group in particular. The Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) found that the 50 to 54 age group has the largest number of screen-eligible women who have not booked their mammogram appointments.
“It has been shown that early detection of breast cancer through mammography can result in significant health benefits, including increased treatment options and better survival rates,” says Dr. Lori Moore, Regional Breast Imaging Lead for the Central East Regional Cancer Program.
“Breast cancer occurs primarily in women 50 to 74 years of age, so now is the time for women on the younger end of this age range, from 50 to 54, to start booking their regular mammograms.”
To increase screening participation, Cancer Care Ontario has chosen October 21 as the provincial Day of the Mammogram. However, eligible women are encouraged to book a mammogram at any time by calling TSH at 416-431-8168. Alternatively, they can call the OBSP at 1-800-668-9304. No referral from a doctor is required.
TSH’s Breast DAU accepts patients who have been referred through the OBSP, as well as those who have been referred by their primary care physician/nurse practitioner. Patients who are found to have clinical or imaging abnormalities are supported by a specially-trained Breast Nurse Navigator, while ongoing contact and communication is maintained with their primary care physician. In addition, the interprofessional health care team at TSH includes dedicated, highly skilled technologists, radiologists, and surgeons.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in Canadian women, with one in nine women expected to be diagnosed in their lifetime. In 2015, an estimated 9,800 Ontario women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 1,900 women will die of the disease.
A mammogram is performed on a special X-ray machine that takes a picture of the breast and detects any changes that have occurred, even those too small for the average person to feel or see. A mammogram is administered by a registered medical radiation technologist, and involves a plastic plate that is slowly pressed down to flatten the breast and hold it in place for a few seconds. The patient will feel some pressure on the breast, but this pressure will not harm breast tissue. Mammograms are free of charge to Ontario women who are eligible to be screened. 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. It is recommended that most eligible women get screened every two years.
- 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, the OBSP, or to book an appointment, visit www.cancercare.on.ca/justbookit.