The North Bay Regional Health Centre is once again holding its Mammothon Breast Screening Challenge.
It’s June 19th at the hospital from 7:00am to 7:00pm.
Natalie Kohlsmith, a charge technologist, will oversee the event and also do mammograms throughout the day.
Kohlsmith says the need for women to have mammograms can’t be stressed enough.
Kohlsmith says a woman may not show signs or symptoms of breast cancer but that doesn’t mean the cancer isn’t there.
Mammograms can detect breast cancers in their earliest stages long before any physical signs or symptoms appear.
“A mammogram takes images of the breast tissue within the breast and you’ll be able to see it when it’s very small well before you can detect it by touch or feel,” Kohlsmith said.
And that early detection is the key to survival because the cancer is treated well before it becomes problematic.
The Cancer Care Society says one in eight women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives and one in 31 will die from the disease.
“But today’s survival rates are much better than what they were years ago and that’s because women are participating in routine screenings and also the treatment for breast cancers are advancing,” Kohlsmith said.
Kohlsmith says women who come in for a screening, shouldn’t be alarmed if they get called back for extra pictures or an ultrasound.
She says this doesn’t mean the woman has breast cancer.
Often times the radiologist just needs a bit more information and that’s all there is to it.
In cases where cancer may be present, then a biopsy may be requested to determine if the breast is cancerous.
This is the 12th year for the breast cancer challenge and Kohlsmith is hopeful the event can surpass last year’s total when 108 women came in for a screening.
She says that may be possible because every year more women get tested.
The mammograms are for women 50 to 74 years of age.
Normally a woman should have a mammogram every two years.
However, annual screenings may be recommended for some women and Kohlsmith that’s because of the woman’s family history or her type of breast tissue.
North Bay was the first hospital in Northeastern Ontario to introduce the screenings.
Kohlsmith says the idea started in London, Ontario years ago when the event was known as the 50 Over 50 Challenge.
North Bay learned of it, tried the breast screenings locally and had huge success with it.
Since its inception in North Bay, more hospitals in the Northeast have also had mammogram screenings including Sudbury, West Nipissing, Timmins, New Liskeard, Kirkland Lake and Parry Sound.
Kohlsmith says the screening only takes 10 to 15 minutes.
She hopes women make the time to have a test which is free.
One of the women who underwent the breast screening is Anne Dockendorff and she’s grateful for taking the time to do it.
Dockendorff admits she put off the mammogram for about five years and finally went for the test after a push from her family doctor.
It’s a good thing she got tested because the mammogram caught her breast cancer.
Before that test, she had gone to the doctor’s for a routine exam and there was no sign of breast cancer.
Kohlsmith says Dockendorff’s experience reinforces how a mammogram can pick up indications of breast cancer well before physical signs show up.
No appointment is necessary for Wednesday’s screenings.
Kohlsmith says women coming in for the screenings should make their way to the Ontario Breast Screening Program office by following the pink paw prints when they enter the hospital.
They can also ask one of the volunteers at the information desk for directions.