Prevention and Screening
Prevention and early detection are the key aims of Ontario's screening programs. Screening for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer saves lives. Screening is done on people who do not have any cancer symptoms (or who are asymptomatic). The purpose of cancer screening is to detect pre-cancerous changes, or cancer at an early stage.
The Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP)
The Ontario Breast Screening Program provides access to screening for women over 50, with our without a family physician. Through the program, women can book their own appointments and also receive reminder letters when they are due for their next screen.
Currently, the OBSP delivers services through 140 screening sites including the mobile coach in Northwestern Ontario and 28 breast assessment sites across the province.
The OBSP provides premium services accredited with the Canadian Association of Radiologists Mammography Accreditation Program. In addition, OBSP sites, staff and equipment are checked on an ongoing basis to make sure they offer good quality mammograms at all times. The goal of the OBSP is to achieve a 70% participation rate in Ontario women aged 50-69 by the year 2010, and 90% by the year 2020.
Early detection of breast cancer greatly improves a person's chance of survival. When breast cancer is caught in its earliest stages, the five-year survival rate for women under the age of 70 is 90%. Regular screening using mammograms has been proven effective in detecting cancer and reducing mortality in women ages 50 - 70.
For more information about the OBSP please click here.
The Ontario Cervical Screening Program (OCSP)
Our understanding of cervical cancer has changed significantly in recent years. Cervical cancer is now seen primarily as a result of a very common infection called human papillomavirus (HPV). Some HPV types can cause ordinary and genital wars, but rarely cause cancer. Other HPV types cause cancer of the cervix.
Cervical cancer can be prevented. Cervical screening with Pap tests can detect changes or abnormalities in the cells of the cervix before cancer develops. All women need a regular Pap test within three years of starting any kind of sexual activity. With regular Pap tests and HPV vaccine, it is possible to eradicate cervical cancer.
Cases of and deaths from cervical cancer have gone down by over 60% in the last 30 years, mostly due to screening using regular Pap tests. Having regular Pap tests and early treatment, if necessary, can prevent most cancers of the cervix.
For more information about the OCSP, please click here.
Colon Cancer Check
Enough can't be said about the importance of screening in preventing, detecting and curing colorectal cancer. This is why the Government of Ontario, in collaboration with Cancer Care Ontario, has created Colon Cancer Check - a province-wide screening program.
In Ontario, colon cancer is the second most common cause of cancer deaths, yet it is curable 90 per cent of the time if detected early through screening. Men and women of average risk over 50 years of age should consult their health care provider and have a Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) every two years. An FOBT can also be obtained through Colon Cancer Check by individuals without a health care provider.
Individuals who are at increased risk of getting colorectal cancer may need to begin screening for the disease at a younger age and a colonoscopy is the more appropriate screening tool. Talk to your health care provider about your family history and the screening method that is right for you.
For more information about the Colon Cancer Check program, please click here.