If you are a woman between the ages 50-74, talk to your healthcare provider about regular breast cancer screening.
Regular mammography is the best way for women who are at average risk to be proactive about their breast health.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Ontario women. However, fewer Ontario women are dying of the disease. Breast cancer mortality in Ontario declined by roughly 42% for women ages 50-74 in the past two decades. This is due to improved treatments for breast cancer as well as an increase in the number of women participating in regular breast screening.
Breast screening with a mammogram is the best way to find breast cancer early. Mammograms can find lumps in the breast that you can’t feel.
“I was fortunate to be given the ‘all clear’ after an abnormality was detected in my breast. “Now I am determined to do what I can to encourage women to be screened. It’s like booking a routine dental check-up; you know you need to make the appointment, but sometimes you just need a little push.” - Kelly Timmermans (aka KT) Morning Buzz Co-Host with Great Lakes Country, Little Current.
In Ontario, women aged 50-74 should have a mammogram every 2 years at an Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) location nearest them. Regular mammography is the best way for women who are at average risk to be proactive about their breast health.
Women ages 50-74 can choose from 12 convenient OBSP locations at hospitals and community clinics across the North East region. Women are welcome to book their own appointment; a physician referral is not needed. To contact the centre nearest you call the OBSP toll free number 1-800-668-9304 or search the listing below.
OBSP Screening Locations
A mammogram is a low dose x-ray of the breasts and is performed by a mammography technologist.
You will feel some pressure on your breast. It feels similar to a tight blood pressure cuff. A few women experience pain but it lasts only for a few seconds. If you feel pain during the X-ray, tell the technologist. The technologist may be able to adjust the pressure. The two of you can work together to make it as comfortable an experience as possible.
Click on the following video for a demonstration of what to expect during a mammogram.
Instructions on how to prepare
All OBSP sites feature digital mammography. This means the image is captured and immediately available as a digital image on a computer screen. Once the mammography technologist is sure they’ve got good digital images of both breasts, you will be escorted back to the change room and your screening appointment is done. The digital images of your breasts will then be sent to the radiologist for reading. The radiologist is specially trained to read mammograms and identify any abnormalities.
Both you and your healthcare provider will receive the results of the test.
If the test results are normal, you will receive a reminder letter from the OBSP to be screened again – usually every 2 years.
If more tests are needed, they will be arranged by your healthcare provider.
Extra tests do NOT mean you have breast cancer.
Some women are at higher risk of developing breast cancer then other women; for example women who have a lot of close family members with breast cancer or women who have been identified as being at high risk through genetic testing. Women between the ages of 30-69, who have been identified as high risk for breast cancer, should get a mammogram as well as an MRI every year. If you think you may be at high risk for breast cancer, contact your health care provider to see if the OBSP’s high risk screening program is right for you.
Women are encouraged to speak to their healthcare provider to find out if they may be at high risk for breast cancer. A referral from your healthcare provider is needed for an appointment with an OBSP High Risk Screening Centre.
In the North East Ontario region, OBSP High Risk Screening Centres are based at the following locations:
For more information about the OBSP High Risk Program click here
A healthy lifestyle may reduce your risk for breast cancer:
Limit your time on hormone replacement therapy, if used
Most importantly, get screened. Regular mammography, generally every two years, is the best way for women 50 to 74 who are at average risk to be proactive about their breast health.
For more information about breast cancer screening click here