SAULT STE. MARIE, ON (Oct. 10, 2023) – October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it’s not only a month to wear pink but a month to remember and honour those women battling breast cancer. Group Health Centre (GHC) is reminding community members of the importance of booking a mammogram and how to check for early signs of breast cancer.
A mammogram is a procedure done to examine breast tissue for any signs of cancer. Once a mammogram machine has compressed the breast, an X-ray is captured of the tissue for examination.
GHC’s Diagnostic Imaging Department is home to the Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP), where over 6,000 mammograms are done annually.
“A lot of patients arrive for their mammogram extremely nervous and unsure of what is going to happen,” said Paxton, Mammography Technologist at GHC. “But once their exam is complete, most leave the department saying it wasn’t as bad as they thought it would be.”
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian women (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers). It is the second leading cause of death from cancer in Canadian women, second to lung cancer.
“Breast cancer occurs in many forms,” said Pam, Ontario Breast Screening Clerk at GHC. “Some signs to look out for include a lump in the breast or armpit, swelling, discharge from the nipple, skin changes, pain or redness that does not go away, or any other changes in your breasts that you notice,” said Pam.
It is estimated that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
“Regular breast cancer screenings at the right time are so important,” said Kim, Diagnostic Imaging Manager at GHC. “Because if diagnosed early enough, it can possibly be treated more quickly.”
OBSP recommends that most eligible women, trans and nonbinary people ages 50 to 74, get screened with mammography every two years. However, those at a higher risk of cancer should consider annual screening.
“Women who are considered high risk usually have a family member who has had breast cancer in the past, or they have a genetic mutation that puts them at higher risk for breast cancer,” Kim said. “This is why OBSP recommends that women 30 years and older who are at higher risk for breast cancer should get screened yearly as an extra precaution.”
Mammogram screening at GHC is open to the public and available to women, trans and nonbinary people ages 50 to 74. To book a free OBSP exam, clients must meet the age requirement (50-74), have no symptoms of breast cancer, and have no breast implants.
However, starting Oct. 16, 2023, OBSP will be changing its policy and people with breast implants who meet all other OBSP eligibility criteria can be screened in the program.
“On the day of the screening, we ask clients to wear a two-piece outfit as they need to remove their shirts for the exam,” said Nicole, Ontario Breast Screening Clerk at GHC. “It’s also important not to wear any deodorants, creams, powders, or perfumes, as these products can impact the accuracy of the image.”
For those individuals who do not meet the OBSP screening criteria outlined above, GHC offers Diagnostic Screening for asymptomatic women. This screening requires a physician’s referral and is available to anyone under the age of 49 or over 75 with no prior breast cancer or breast augmentation.
To book your screening appointment today, call 705-759-5657.
The Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) is a screening program that encourages people in Ontario to get screened for breast cancer. The OBSP screens 2 different groups of people who are eligible for breast cancer screening in Ontario: those at average risk and those at high risk.
For more information on OBSP, please click here: https://bit.ly/3fHrsD6