Southlake is a site of the breast research program in Ontario; Early detection of breast cancer is key to less invasive treatment, survival
Lori Allen, Mammoth On Organizer and Team Leader of Mammography and Ontario Breast Screening Program at Southlake Regional Health Center. Submitted photo
NewmarketToday.ca HOME COLUMNS “Mammogram no longer the pain and humiliation it once was” Southlake is a site of the Ontario breast research program;
Early breast cancer detection is key to less invasive treatment, survival about 3 hours ago By: Miriam King Share via text Lori Allen Lori Allen, Mammoth On organizer and team leader of mammography and Ontario Breast Screening Program at Southlake Regional Health Center.
Photo submitted April is Daffodil Month, the Cancer Society’s annual campaign to raise awareness and funding for cancer research, and May is traditionally the month of the Mammoth On, the Ontario Breast Screening Program’s annual campaign to encourage women to undergo diagnostic testing .
The Mammoth On may be on hold temporarily over concerns about COVID-19, but the message is still clear. According to statistics, one in two Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their life. For women, breast cancer is the most important cancer diagnosis:
one in eight women will fight the disease. At the beginning of this year, I was faced with the possibility of becoming one of those metrics. The routine mammogram on December 21, 2020 would be my last regularly scheduled mammogram. Women can self-refer up to the age of 74 in the Obsolete program.
At age 75, women can remain in the Obsolete program as long as they receive a request from their primary care physician.The diagnostic procedure has highlighted an anomaly. I was called back for a second mammogram and an ultrasound on January 6, then for a biopsy on January 22. It was not entirely a surprise.
When I was researching, I already knew that over the past three decades, from 1981 to 2016, the province of Ontario has seen a 175 percent increase in cancer incidence.
Cancer Care Ontario has attributed the increase to an aging population, a growing population, improved diagnostics and, to a lesser extent, changes in cancer risks.
I also knew that the median age for a cancer diagnosis was 67, and that the danger zone for cancer development and detection is generally between 60 and 79. Fifty-two percent of all new cases are in that age group.
I was there, right in the danger zone. And I had one more reason to be wary: a family history of breast cancer. My mother was diagnosed with the disease and she has successfully fought it.
Within days of the second mammogram, I was contacted by both my primary care physician and the Southlake Regional Health Center to set up the biopsy.
Both were caring and reassuring – not that I needed reassurance at the time. I was aware of the statistics, my family history, but also the fact that new diagnostic techniques had detected the potential cancer at an early stage, and that new treatment options have improved survival rates.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, the net five-year survival for women diagnosed with breast cancer is 88 percent; that increases, the sooner the cancer is diagnosed.
For women diagnosed with stage 1, the five-year survival rate is 100 percent – and in a year when a global pandemic continued to rage, those seemed pretty good odds.
The biopsy took place January 22 at the Medical Arts Building in Southlake. It was a matter of freezing a spot on the chest, making a small incision and inserting a needle to remove tissue from the anomaly.
A small titanium clip was then inserted to mark the location of the sample. I was told that if the tissue turned out to be malignant, the clip would be removed at the time of surgery; if it were benign, the clip would stay in place but not trigger the metal detectors in malls or airports.
After a gentle mammogram, to mark the location of the clip, that was it: a minimum of time, a minimum of discomfort. The most stressful part was waiting 10 days for results.
Actually, I didn’t even have to wait the full 10 days. My caring doctor called me in four hours: the results were negative, the anomaly was benign and noncancerous.
A follow-up in diagnostic imaging confirmed the good news, and that’s it for now. I was sent home with the advice to be aware of the risk factors associated with cancer: alcohol consumption, smoking, physical inactivity, obesity and overweight, a diet low in fresh fruits and vegetables.
I was advised to keep getting regular mammograms. And that’s the key. The mammogram has become the front line of early detection, and early detection means less invasive treatment and better survival rates. Any woman who has delayed a mammogram should make an appointment as soon as possible.
It took me years to get over the very painful experience of a previous mammogram, but the machines and techniques have changed. A mammogram is no longer the pain and humiliation it once was.
And it can save lives. According to Southlake Regional Health Center, women between the ages of 50 and 74 don’t need a referral to get screened for breast cancer.
The same goes for trans men who still have breast tissue. A referral from a GP or nurse practitioner is required for those under 50 or over 74. Southlake is a site of the Ontario Breast Screening Program (Obsolete).
There are 31 Obsolete locations in Central Region, including South Simcoe, York Region, and North York. Call 1-800-668-9304 or click here to find the nearest Obsolete site.
If you are between 50 and 74 years old and want to book a mammogram with Southlake, call 905-895-4521 ext. 2665 to schedule.
The latest information on COVID-19 screening protocols and those coming for your appointment will be posted on the Southlake website; Click here.
Kathryn Perrier, corporate communications manager at Southlake, notes, “As we deal with the increasing number of COVID-19 patients in our community and across the county, Southlake is following the Department of Health’s guidelines on postponing or canceling procedures and will publish this. information on our website. “