Women over the age of 50 in Weyburn will have the opportunity to get their early detection breast cancer screenings done locally beginning on Monday. The mobile mammogram bus will be parked at the Canalta Hotel from January 7th to February 13th.
Through the breast cancer screening program, 75% of the breast cancers diagnosed are at an early stage.
“Early screening is extremely important, because we’re able to feel if there is a lump prior to the woman being able to feel it, so on a mammogram they can detect small changes to the breast that aren’t palpable by the health care provider’s hand,” said Linda Weir, Early Detection Program Director for the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency.
A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray of the breast.
“The woman would come in and put a gown on and then she goes into a room with a trained mammogram technologist, who places her breast on the machine, there’s some compression to it and the machine takes that x-ray,” said Weir, noting that the whole process takes no more than 15 minutes.
These days, the mammogram process is totally digital.
“It used to be on film years ago, we switched to digital starting in 2009 and throughout the province, each centre gradually changed to that new technology,” she explained.
The mobile bus travels across the province to 41 communities on a two-year rotation.
“A woman 50 years or older, who has no symptoms, would come and get screened every two years, so it’s in Weyburn now and in two years it will come back to Weyburn,” said Weir.
Those requiring yearly screenings would need to book into Regina for screenings on the alternate years.
Once a woman turns 50 years of age, the Sask Cancer Agency receives notification from the Saskatchewan government, via e-Health. She is invited to the program through a letter, and then she phones the number to join the screening program.
Operating year-round, the agency performs around 9,000 mammograms on the bus throughout the year, with bus maintenance breaks twice a year, in June and during the Christmas holidays. This means dozens of women every weekday are able to take advantage of early detection screening.
“Finding cancer early means more treatment options and better outcomes, and that’s what we want for all the population of Saskatchewan,” said Weir. “It’s very convenient and a great service for all the women of Saskatchewan that are in rural Saskatchewan and don’t have that opportunity for a mammogram in their local hospital.”
“My wish would be that in Weyburn, 100 per cent of women over the age of 50 would attend the bus to get a screening mammogram,” she added.
The SCA has been providing a mobile early detection cancer screening program since 1990. Early on, the bus traveled only to northern Saskatchewan but eventually became utilized throughout the province to ensure all women had access to a screening mammogram.
Women over 50 can call 1-855-584-8228 to book an appointment on the mammogram bus.