Booking a mammogram takes just five minutes and could save your life
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Algoma Public Health, in partnership with Cancer Care Ontario, is inviting eligible women aged 50 to 54 to ‘Just Book It’ by scheduling their mammogram appointments. The average mammogram screening takes just five minutes to book and less than 10 minutes to complete.
This year’s 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 Michelle Luckhardt, a public health nurse at Algoma Public Health. “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 not only start thinking about screening for breast cancer but to start booking their regular mammograms.”
To increase screening participation, Cancer Care Ontario has chosen Oct. 21 as the provincial Day of the Mammogram. However, eligible women are encouraged to book a mammogram at any time by calling 1-888-240-3903. No referral from a doctor is required.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in Canadian women, with one in nine women expected to be diagnosed with it 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.
“Mammograms are still the best and most reliable way to detect breast cancer early on,” says Luckhardt. “Breast cancers can be detected through screening mammography when they are smaller, with a better chance of being treated successfully. This is why we are inviting women aged 50 to 54 to start screening sooner rather than later – early detection is key.”
A mammogram is 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 healthcare provider to Ontario’s High Risk Breast Screening Program based on their family or medical history.
Eligible women can schedule their mammogram appointments at any OBSP site. For more information about mammograms, the OBSP or to book an appointment, women in the Algoma district can call 1-888-240-3903 or visit www.cancercare.on.ca/justbookit.