Cancer Screening Program
Prevention and early detection are the key aims of Ontario's cancer 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 provides access to screening for women over 50 years of age, with or without a family physician. Through the program, women can book their own appointments and will also receive reminder letters when they are due for their next screening.
Currently, the OBSP delivers services through 140 screening sites across Ontario, including 18 sites in the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Region, in addition to a Screen for Life Mobile Coach.
For women that have a family history of breast cancer, physicians can make a referral to the OBSP for Women at High Risk, which was introduced in 2011. Women are eligible for the OBSP's High Risk program if they have no acute breast symptoms, are 30 to 69 years of age and meet one of the following risk criteria:
- Are known to be carriers of a deleterious gene mutation (e.g. BRCA1, BRCA2)
- Are the first degree relative of a mutation carrier (e.g. BRCA1, BRCA2) and have declined genetic testing
- Are determined to be ≥25% lifetime risk of breast cancer -- must have been assessed using either the IBIS or BOADICEA risk assessment tools, preferably at a genetics clinic
- Have received chest radiation before age 30 and at least 8 years previously
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 to 70.
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 mammographs at all times. The goal of the OBSP was to acheive a 70% participation rate in Ontario women ages 50-69 by 2010, and 90% by the year 2020.
For more information about the OBSP in Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Region, please visit www.hnhbscreenforlife.ca/breast.
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 or genital warts, but rarely cause cancer. Other types of HPV cause cancer of the cervix.
Cervical cancer can be prevented. Cervical screening with Pap tests can detect changes and 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 and continue to receive a Pap test every three years until they are 70 years old and have had three normal tests in the previous 10 years. With regular Pap tests and the HPV vaccine, it is possible to readicate 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, combined with early treatment, if necessary, can prevent most cancers of the cervix.
For more information about the OCSP in Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Region, please visit www.hnhbscreenforlife.ca/cervical.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Ontario and the third most common cancer diagnosed in the province. This is why the Government of Ontario, in collaboration with Cancer Care Ontario, has created ColonCancerCheck, which is a province-wide screening program.
If detected early through screening, colorectal cancer is curable 90% of the time. Men and women of average risk over 50 years old should consult their health care provider and have a Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) every two years. An FOBT can also be obtained through ColonCancerCheck by individuals without a health care provider.
Individuals who are at increase risk of getting colorectal cancer may need to begin screening for the disease at a younger age (before the ages of 50) 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 ColonCancerCheck program in Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Region, please visit www.hnhbscreenforlife.ca/colon.
The new Screen for Life Mobile Coach offers three cancer screening tests in one convenient location. Breast, cervical and colorectal screening are provided on a 45-foot bus, which has a state-of-the-art digital mammography suite, two change rooms, an exam room, a sitting area, Wi-Fi communication and full wheelchair accessibility.
To learn more about the Screen for Life Coach, please visit www.hnhbscreenforlife.ca/screenforlifecoach.