Raising Awareness of the Importance of Breast Screening: Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre Staff PULL ON THEIR PINK

Today, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC) staff gathered in the busy lunchtime cafeteria to help raise awareness of the importance of breast screening for early detection of breast cancer. Dressed in pink garb of all sorts, the group came together to make a visible show of support for those who have experienced breast cancer – some in the group are survivors themselves.

In support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre encourages women to know the importance of breast cancer screening and to be proactive about it.

Over 788 women who work at TBRHSC are over the age of 50. This month, they can squeeze in a mammogram at TBRHSC through dedicated on-site appointments on either the mobile coach or in the Linda Buchan Centre. TBRHSC encourages other workplaces to consider providing screening opportunities for their staff. Interested workplaces can contact Prevention and Screening Services at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre to learn more about available options. For more information about workplace screening call 684-724.

“Research shows that regular screening of women aged 50 to 69 with mammography can reduce breast cancer by 21%. And over time, appropriate high-quality screening and better treatments are making a major dent, with breast cancer death rates dropping by 37% for women aged 50 to 74 between 1990 and 2008,” says Dr. Mark Henderson, Cancer Care Ontario Regional Vice President for the Northwest region. “Screening finds breast cancer earlier, when there are more treatment options and an improved chance of survival.”

In 2012, it is estimated that 9,100 Ontario women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and that 2,000 will die from the disease. There are approximately 1,937,000 women in Ontario aged 50 to 74 who are potentially eligible to be screened for breast cancer in 2012. However, only half of eligible women across Ontario – including Northwestern Ontario – participate in breast screening mammography.

Breast cancer screening aims to detect cancer as early as possible, before symptoms appear. Research clearly shows the benefits of screening for breast cancer, the most common cancer in Canadian women affecting 1 in 9 in their lifetime.

The Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) provides high-quality mammography services and meets Canadian standards for the early detection of small invasive cancers. In Northwestern Ontario, the OBSP mobile coach takes screening on the road to 55 locations in 30 communities to provide better access to breast screening. In addition to conducting the screening test, OBSP sites also send reminders, notify women of their results, and coordinate follow-up testing.

The OBSP recommends that women aged 50 to 74 have a screening mammogram every two years. Women aged 30 to 69 who have been identified as being at high risk for breast cancer should talk to their health care provider about additional screening opportunities.

Women aged 50 to 74 who have no breast problems can call the OBSP to make their own appointment. Women do not need a referral from a primary care provider. To book an OBSP appointment in Northwestern Ontario call toll-free 1-800-668-9304 or in Thunder Bay call 684-7777.

Women should see their family doctor or nurse practitioner to discuss what breast cancer screening option is appropriate for them. Ontarians can also visit ontario.ca/screenforlife and complete the Time to Screen tool to find out when it’s the right time for them to get screened.

For more information go to www.cancercare.on.ca/screenforlife or call 1-800-668-9304.

TBRHSC staff don their pink garb to raise awareness about the importance of detecting breast cancer early through regular mammograms for women 50 years of age and over. October is Breast Health Awareness Month.