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Number of breast screening patients in Niagara increases by more than 2,000 in six months

Posted Oct 24th, 2008

Niagara, ON: Regular breast screening saves lives, and by more aggressively promoting women's wellness and breast health, the number of patients seen in recent months by the Niagara Health System (NHS) for breast screening has increased by more than 2,000 women.

Between April 1 and September 30 of this year, a total of 7,830 patients – an increase of 2,048 patients – had mammograms (breast X-rays) at the Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) in Niagara.

"Our health-care professionals have worked very hard to identify women in Niagara aged 50 to 69 who should undergo regular breast screening," says Bonnie Sipos, Administrative Director of Diagnostics at the Niagara Health System (NHS).

"We are very pleased that we have been able to reach a greater number of eligible women and enroll them in the screening program," says Ms. Sipos. "However, as many women as possible in the target age group need to take advantage of this service, and we would continue to encourage women aged 50 to 69 to get mammograms every two years at one of our five OBSP Centres in Niagara."

Working with partner Cancer Care Ontario, health professionals in Niagara initially targeted an increase of 2,800 mammography patients for the current fiscal year. Due to the successful increase in patients over the first half of the fiscal year, that target has now been increased to 4,000 patients, which is 70 per cent more than the original target increase of 2,800.

Ontario's target is to have 70 per cent of women aged 50 to 69 undergo mammography screening every two years by the year 2010, and 90 per cent of women in this age group by the year 2020. Currently, close to 63 per cent of women in Ontario aged 50 to 69 participate in regular screening through OBSP or other screening clinics. 
While the incidence of breast cancer among women aged 50 to 69 is increasing, Cancer Care Ontario reports that death from breast cancer in women in that age group has declined by up to a third from 1989 to 2004.

"The most important way to save lives from breast cancer is to make sure all women aged 50 to 69 go for regular mammograms," said Dr. Verna Mai, Director of Screening at Cancer Care Ontario. "We know mammography works and is the most effective tool for detecting breast cancer early in most women, but in order to save more lives from this disease, more women need to get screened."

The five Niagara OBSP centres are located at the following NHS sites: Douglas Memorial Hospital Site (Fort Erie), Greater Niagara General Site (Niagara Falls), Port Colborne General Site, St. Catharines General Site and Welland Hospital Site.

Niagara Falls, St. Catharines and Welland OBSP Centres offer full screening services as well as follow-up diagnostics and treatment services. Satellite OBSP clinics in Port Colborne and Fort Erie offer nurse examination and screening mammography with follow-up care provided at Greater Niagara or Welland Hospital sites. All screening centres are accredited through the Canadian Association of Radiologists.

Women aged 50 to 69 can make an appointment at their local OBSP site without a doctor's referral. Appointments can be arranged by calling:

Fort Erie OBSP - 905-871-4673
Niagara Falls OBSP - 905-358-4952
St. Catharines OBSP - 905-378-4647 ext. 46345 
Welland OBSP - 905-732-5434
Port Colborne OBSP - 905-835-5842

Niagara Health System