Screen Test Mobile Mammography Clinic Coming To Swan Hills

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. During this international awareness campaign, people all over the world raise money for breast cancer research efforts, patient supports for those affected by breast cancer, and attempt to educate the public about the prevalence of these types of cancers as well as ways to detect them as early as possible.

While significant progress has been made in detecting and treating breast cancer, the statistics are still very sobering. One out of seven women in Alberta will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.

Screening tests are essential tools, offering the best way to detect breast cancer early, when treatments may be more effective. The current recommendations in Alberta are for women between the ages of 45 and 74 to be screened every two years. The recommended age to begin regular screening has recently been lowered from 50 to 45 based on new evidence that the benefits of screening this early outweigh the potential harms. Women between 40 and 44 may be screened annually based on their healthcare provider's recommendations.

Fortunately for women living in rural areas of Alberta, Alberta Health Services (AHS) offers Screen Test Mobile Mammography Services. Launched in 1991, this program has two mobile trailers equipped with digital mammography machines that visit 122 rural communities across the province.

The Screen Test Mobile Mammography Service trailer will visit Swan Hills from November 2 – 3. The Grizzly Gazette spoke with Chidinma Okoli, Health Promotion Facilitator For Screen Tests with AHS, to learn more about the mobile screen test services.

Okoli explained that the process for the mobile screen test is relatively straightforward. The person coming in for their appointment will first meet with the technologist for a short health screening questionnaire and to fill out some paperwork. Then they will move to the next part of the trailer with the mammography machine for the test. The whole process will take about 20 minutes. The test results take about two weeks to come in, with one copy going to the person who took the test and one to their doctor.

According to AHS' test screening website (screeningforlife.ca), it is best to wear a two-piece outfit to the appointment so the top can be removed to accommodate the test. There is also a warning not to use perfume, antiperspirant, deodorant, or body powder, as this can affect the results of the mammogram.

Okoli explained, "Mammograms are very important. They can help find the tumours early, when they are very small and just before symptoms develop."

Those looking to be tested must make an appointment in advance; walk-ins will not be accepted. Women between the ages of 45 and 74 can self-refer for their screen test without needing a doctor's referral. Women between 40 and 44 will require a doctor's referral for an appointment. Please call the booking line at 1-(800) 667-0604 to make an appointment. Further information can be found at AHS' test screening website (screeningforlife.ca).

Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette