October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

photo of women linking arms
Monday, October 1, 2018

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the South West Regional Cancer Program, in partnership with Cancer Care Ontario, is encouraging women between the ages of 50 and 54 to talk with their health care providers about getting screened regularly with a mammogram.

Unfortunately, many eligible women in Ontario are still not getting screened for breast cancer. The most recent Ontario statistics show that among Ontario women who had a mammogram through the Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) in 2014, 79 percent returned within 30 months for another mammogram (i.e., retention). This is a decrease from the 81 percent who returned in 2013. Retention was lowest in women ages 50 to 54 (74 percent), which means there are still many eligible women in this age group who could benefit from regular breast cancer screening.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in Ontario women. It is estimated that about 11,762 Ontario women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and about 1,977 Ontario women will die from the disease in 2018. However, in women between the ages of 50 and 69, one death is prevented for every 721 women who get screened regularly with mammograms over a period of time (approximately 11 years). In Ontario, over two million women ages 50 to 74 are eligible to be screened by the OBSP.

The Ontario Breast Screening Program provides high-quality breast screening throughout Ontario to two groups of women:

  • Most women ages 50 to 74 are screened every two years with mammography.
  • Women ages 30 to 69 who are confirmed to be at high risk of getting breast cancer are screened once a year with a mammogram and breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (or screening breast ultrasound if MRI is not medically appropriate).

“Since 1990, there has been a considerable decrease in the death rate from breast cancer in women ages 50 to 74,” says Dr. Jan Owen, Regional Primary Care Lead for the South West Regional Cancer Program. “This decrease is likely due to improvements in breast cancer treatment and more women getting screened with mammograms. Although mammograms are not perfect tests, getting screened for breast cancer regularly can find cancer early when it may be smaller and easier to treat.”

Talk with your healthcare provider today about your breast screening options. To learn more, visit www.cancercareontario.ca/bcam