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KEEN TO SCREEN

- Health Unit Encourages Local Women to Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer by Being Regularly Screened for Disease -

Many women across Ontario are not being regularly screened for breast cancer, a statistic that a local health official says needs to change for the better.

New results from the Ontario Breast Screening Report show only 61 per cent of Ontario women aged 50 to 74 years were screened for breast cancer in 2010/11 – the latest year for which results were available in the province.

“We need to encourage more women to get regular breast screening,” says Marjorie Oke, a Public Health Nurse with the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit. “Regular screening for breast cancer is essential because it can detect the disease early on when treatment is most effective. This is especially important when breast cancer is the most common cancer, affecting one in nine women in Canada in their lifetime.”

Health experts recommend women with an ‘average’ or ‘high risk’ of breast cancer be regularly screened for the disease. In Ontario, average-risk women who are between the ages of 50 to 70 years can be screened with a mammogram every two years without a referral. Women aged 30 to 69 years who are at higher risk of breast cancer due to genetic factors or a history of breast cancer in their family can be referred to a priority testing program for an annual mammogram and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).

According to Oke, the Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) is a valuable resource to help women get regular screening. The service is free to average-risk women in Ontario ages 50 years and older, who can book an appointment without the need for a doctor’s referral. The OBSP also provides notification to women when they are due for their next screening. There are 162 OBSP screening sites across the province, including Ross Memorial Hospital in Lindsay, Campbellford Memorial Hospital and Northumberland Hills Hospital in Cobourg. To find out more, call the OBSP toll-free at 1-800-668-9304 or visit www.ontario.ca/screenforlife.

To further reduce the risk of breast cancer, women should also be watchful for any changes to their breasts. This may include a lump or dimpling, changes in the nipple or fluid leaking from the nipple, and skin changes or redness that do not go away. Says Oke: “It’s important to report any of these changes to your health care provider. While most of these changes are not cancerous, it is better to err on the side of caution and have them checked.”

A healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity, healthy eating, a healthy body weight, smoke-free living, and minimizing or abstaining from alcoholic drinks can also help reduce a woman’s risk of cancer and other chronic diseases, she adds.

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For media inquiries, contact:

Marjorie Oke, Public Health Nurse, HKPR District Health Unit, (613) 475-0933.

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