Cariboo Memorial Hospital has a state-of-the-art mammography system to help detect breast cancer early.

Cariboo Memorial Hospital has a state-of-the-art mammography system to help detect breast cancer early.

Mammograms best chance for early detection of breast cancer

The mobile screening unit will be in Alexis Creek Nov. 3 and Anahim Lake Nov. 5

The mobile mammography van is making its way through the Cariboo Chilcotin.

The breast cancer screening unit will pull into 100 Mile District General Hospital on Oct. 27-30, followed by a visit to Clinton’s Regional Health & Wellness Centre on Nov. 8. Both clinics are nearly full with 150 appointments already booked in 100 Mile and 25 in Clinton.

The mobile screening unit will be in Alexis Creek Nov. 3 and Anahim Lake Nov. 5.

Williams Lake has a dedicated clinic for breast cancer screening at Cariboo Memorial Hospital which is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Appointments are required.

The mobile screening, which is available to all women in B.C. between the ages of 40 and 74, does not require a doctor’s referral and is accessible to both walk-ons and wheelchairs. There are no costs associated with the screening but a BC Services Card is required.

Two female technicians are on board the mobile bus, equipped with a state-of-the-art digital mammography system. Patients will fill out some paperwork and questionnaires and then be taken into the examination room where they’ll have the mammogram, which involves taking two separate images or views of each breast.

The images are then sent to a radiologist for a thorough review, with the results within a week or two.

“If we see any suspicious findings, we will let you and your GP know,” said John Lowrie, BC Cancer mobile operations manager, noting those women would then be sent for an ultrasound.

Women with a history of family breast cancer are encouraged to get checked every year, while everyone else should schedule a mammogram every two years, Lowrie said.

He added it’s important women get checked regularly. “Mammograms usually can catch something at least two years before it’s palpable,” he said.

One in eight women is expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime – the most common type of cancer found in women in B.C. – and more than 27,000 Canadians will be diagnosed this year. Over 80 per cent of all new breast cancers diagnosed each year are in women 50 years of age or older.

BC Cancer Breast Screening has a fleet of three digital mammography coaches that travel to rural and remote communities in BC. The service helps to improve and increase access to screening mammograms across the province.

Screening mammograms are performed in a comfortable and private space, using state-of-the-art digital mammography equipment. The vehicles include a reception area, dressing area, and mammography examination room. The coaches are also equipped with a wheelchair lift.

The mobile mammography service performs about 10 per cent of the total number of screening mammograms in B.C. and visits more than 170 rural communities, including more than 40 First Nations communities annually.

Regular screening mammograms can find breast cancer early, usually before it has spread. Make it part of your regular health routine.

Those wanting to make an appointment can call 1-800-663-9203.


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