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Number of breast screening patients increasing; still more than 12,000 women in Niagara not getting screened

Posted Oct 12th, 2012

The number of women getting regular breast screening continues to increase in Niagara, but there are still more than 12,000 women in the region who should be getting screened and aren’t.

“We know that regular breast screening saves lives, and we really want more women to take advantage of this service,” says Dr. Janice Giesbrecht, Medical Director of Oncology at the Niagara Health System. “Routine mammograms are the most important step a woman between the ages of 50 and 74 can take to detect breast cancer early.”

NHS continues to work aggressively, in partnership with Cancer Care Ontario, to reach women in the target age group and encourage them to take advantage of the services provided by the Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP).

Since 2009, breast screening in Niagara has increased approximately 25 per cent. There were 19,502 patients screened in Niagara over the last fiscal year (April 2011 to March 2012), compared to 17,820 in 2010-2011 and 15,217 in 2009-2010. NHS operates five breast screening centres in Niagara. There are also two new screening centres in Grimsby and St. Catharines.

Despite the increased numbers, there are still 12,006 women in Niagara who are in the target age group and are not getting regular mammograms (breast X-rays) through OBSP.

Today, the NHS healthcare team launched an in-house video, Breast Screening Saves Lives – Together We Can Beat Breast Cancer, to raise awareness about the importance of breast screening. The video includes a personal story from breast cancer survivor Joan Hatcher, NHS Manager of Medical Affairs, who had no symptoms of breast cancer when she went for a routine mammogram and discovered she had cancer. There are also more than a dozen clips of doctors, staff and volunteers dancing to the Michael Jackson hit Beat It.

“We are very pleased that the number of women getting screened in Niagara is steadily increasing, but there is still work to do to have more women undergo regular screening,” says NHS Interim President and CEO Sue Matthews. “Many of our staff were coming to us wanting to get involved to promote screening, and we hope that women who aren’t getting regular mammograms will be inspired by our video and make an appointment.”

Women aged 50 to 74 can make an appointment at an OBSP site without a doctor’s referral.

For more information on NHS OBSP programming, please call 905-378-4647 or visit our website. Additional resources are available at the Cancer Care Ontario website.

Media contact:  Caroline Bourque Wiley, Manager, Communications, 905-378-4647, ext. 43113.

Many of our staff at the Niagara Health System wanted to get involved to promote breast screening, and we hope that women who aren’t getting regular mammograms will be inspired by our video and make an appointment.

Let’s keep the momentum going. Please share the video with your family, friends and colleagues to help spread the message.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in Canadian women. Together, we can beat it.


Niagara Health System