Lynn is a busy mother of three. She’s also a breast cancer survivor. At the urging of a friend while on vacation, Lynn booked her first mammogram. Every year she would receive a reminder card in the mail and made sure that getting a free, regular screening was part of her health care routine. She was surprised to find the procedure quick and painless. “It takes longer to take your clothes off than to do the actual screening. There’s absolutely nothing to it,” says Lynn. However one year she got the news that one in eight women will hear. She had breast cancer; the most common type of cancer in women in B.C.
Thanks to regular screening, the mammogram had caught her tumor in its early stages before it had spread. Mammograms can find lumps when they are small, which allows for more treatment options and offers a better chance at recovery. “I feel so blessed to have had early detection,” she shares. “My cancer was in such early stages that I didn’t even need to have chemotherapy.” Regular mammograms can reduce the risk of breast cancer death by 25 per cent.
While mammograms can seem intimidating, the BC Cancer Breast Screening Program is a well-established program that has helped BC to achieve some of the best breast cancer survival outcomes in the world. The program has 36 screening centres and three mobile mammography coaches that service more than 120 rural and remote communities. Lynn made sure to book an appointment when the mobile unit stopped in her city. A doctor’s referral was not required. The mammogram was conducted in complete privacy by a female technologist. During a mammogram, a plastic plate holds the breast in place and compresses the tissue to ensure a good quality image – an image that found a tumour on Lynn’s right side. It was small and it was treatable.
Now cancer-free, she’s sharing her story with other women in an effort to encourage breast screening participation. “I’m as happy with my experience as I could be in this situation. I choose to focus on the positives. Screening saved my life and I want to share my story with others. I’d write it on a billboard if I could!” She wants to help other women who may be hesitant about getting a mammogram, “Save yourself from having to make something that could be really hard, even harder by waiting.”
It's time to give your breasts some screen time too. Call 1-800-663-9203 or visit screeningbc.ca
for more information. Women who are experiencing changes in their breast health should see a doctor right away.
Are you eligible for a free screening?
- Women 40 to 74 with a family history (first degree relative) of breast cancer should get a mammogram every year.
- Women 40-49 without a family history should speak to their doctor about the benefits and limitations of mammography and when they should begin to screen.
- Women 50 to 74 without a family history should get a mammogram every two years.
- Women 75+ should talk to their doctor about if they should continue to screen.
B.C. Breast Cancer Quick Facts:
- Breast cancer risk increases with age: 80 per cent of breast cancer cases are diagnosed in women over 50
- One in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime – one in 28 women is expected to die from the disease
- In 2019, it is estimated 3,500 women and 30 men in B.C. will be diagnosed with breast cancer.
- B.C.’s overall breast cancer screening participation rate for women 50 – 69 is 53%, below the national target of 70%.