Don’t hesitate to get screened for breast cancer. It could just save your life.
That’s according to Dr. Colin Mar, who is the medical director for the BC Cancer breast screening program.
He says the evidence is clear that getting a mammography on a regular basis is the vital first step in detection.
“We have high level evidence that shows that there is a 25 percent reduction in breast cancer mortality, so death from breast cancer, for those who screen with mammography regularly.”
For more details about breast cancer screening, click here.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and breast cancer continues to be the most common type of cancer among B.C. women.
Mar says the frequency of getting a mammogram depends on a couple of key risk factors.
“They are (a person’s) age, and whether or not they have a family history of breast cancer. So family history of breast cancer, we define as having a first degree relative who has had breast cancer, so for example, a sister or a mother.”
If you’re 40 to 74 and do have that type of family history, Mar urges you to get a mammogram every year.
For those 50 to 74 without a family history, the recommendation is to get one every two years.
Once someone gets a mammogram for the first time, they’re entered into the screening program database.
They’ll then get reminders when their next mammogram is due.
On a bright note, there has been a drop in breast cancer deaths since the mid-1980s.
Dr. Mar says this is jointly due to the screening program, as well as significant developments in breast cancer treatments.
Having said that, Mar points out that each year in B.C., 3,500 people will be diagnosed, and there will be 650 deaths from breast cancer.
“So what that means is, the risk is about one-in-eight women over their lifetime will develop breast cancer, and about one in 33 will die of breast cancer.”
For those worried about COVID, Mar assures that along with all of their medical programs, strict safety measures are being taken to keep patients safe from the virus.