By Carol Rand and Dr. Terry Minuk
Summer is here, and for many of us it means taking some well-earned vacation time to relax, enjoy the sunshine and catch up on chores pushed aside by our normally busy lives. Summer is also the ideal time to book overdue medical appointments, like mammograms.
The Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) offers free, high-quality mammograms for women ages 50 to 74, every two years, as part of a healthy lifestyle. There are 26 OBSP sites across the region, covering Hamilton, Burlington, Niagara, Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in Ontario women, with one in eight women being diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Regular breast screening is important because it can find cancer early, when it may be smaller and easier to treat. Most women diagnosed with breast cancer are between the ages of 50 to 74, which is why the OBSP targets this age group for routine breast screening. We encourage women to start screening with the OBSP as soon as they turn 50, and continue with routine mammograms every two years.
Mammography is the best way to screen for breast cancer. Yet regionally, only 63 per cent of eligible women ages 50 to 74 get screened. That’s close to the provincial average of 65 per cent. If you’re in that age group, and are due or overdue, we urge you to give about 30 minutes of your time this summer to catch-up.
Staying up-to-date is easy. Eligible women receive a reminder letter from the OBSP when it’s time to book their next appointment. If you’ve received your reminder letter, and haven’t booked yet, now’s the perfect time to pick up the phone. You can book your own appointment by calling the OBSP directly. You can also go through your family doctor or nurse practitioner.
If you had your last screening mammogram at the Chedoke OBSP site (that moved in 2016), you will now be scheduled at the CIBC Breast Assessment Centre, located at the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre. This site offers extended hours and assistance with transportation if needed. You can book your appointment by calling 905-389-0101.
For a complete list of OBSP locations in our region, please click here or call 1-800-668-9304.
Carol Rand is Director of Regional Cancer Programs at the Juravinski Cancer Centre. Dr. Terry Minuk is Regional Breast Imaging Lead for the Regional Cancer Program.