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REDUCE YOUR RISK

- Health Unit Encourages Local Women to Be Regularly Screened For Breast Cancer -

Be keen to screen to reduce your risk of breast cancer.

That’s the word from the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit, as it encourages local women to be regularly screened for breast cancer. This year alone, Cancer Care Ontario estimates 9,500 women in this province will be diagnosed with breast cancer. It is also estimated 1,950 Ontario women will die from the disease this year.

“We need to encourage more women to get regular breast screening,” says Elsie Azevedo Perry, a Registered Dietitian with the HKPR 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 in women, 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 74 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 Azevedo Perry, 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 numerous 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 Ontario's Screen for Life webpage.

People are also asked to send an ‘e-card’ to a friend or family member who would benefit from getting screened for breast cancer. The e-cards, which encourage recipients to get breast cancer screening, can be sent by visiting the Cancer Care Ontario website.

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 Azevedo Perry: “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.

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For media inquiries, contact:

Elsie Azevedo Perry, Registered Dietitian, HKPR District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100.

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