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Many Ontario Women Still Not Getting Screened for Breast Cancer

October 2, 2017

3 min read

Percentage of Women Ages 50 to 54 Screening for Breast Cancer has Declined Since 2013

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Cancer Care Ontario is encouraging women between the ages of 50 and 54 to talk with their healthcare providers about getting screened regularly with a mammogram. Among Ontario women who had a mammogram through the Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) in 2013, 81% returned within 30 months for another mammogram (i.e., retention). This is a decrease from the 83% who returned in 2012. Retention was lowest in women ages 50 to 54 (77%), which means there are still many eligible women who could benefit from regular breast cancer screening.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in Ontario women. It is estimated that about 10,100 Ontario women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and about 1,900 women will die from the disease in 2017. However, in women between the ages of 50 and 69, 1 death is prevented for every 721 women who get screened regularly with mammograms over a period of time (approximately 11 years). In Ontario, over 2-million women ages 50 to 74 are eligible to be screened by the OBSP.

“Breast cancer has one of the highest survival rates out of all of the cancers in Ontario,” said Dr. Linda Rabeneck, Vice-President, Prevention and Cancer Control at Cancer Care Ontario. “Studies show that regular mammograms lower the risk of dying from breast cancer in women ages 50 to 74. Screening mammography can find breast cancers when they are small, less likely to have spread and more likely to be treated successfully.”

The OBSP provides high-quality breast screening throughout Ontario to 2 groups of women, and recommends that:

  • most women ages 50 to 74 be screened every 2 years with mammography
  • women ages 30 to 69 who are at high risk of getting breast cancer be screened once a year with a mammogram and breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (or, if MRI is not medically appropriate, screening breast ultrasound)

“Getting regular screenings for breast cancer is the best way to find and diagnose the disease early, and treat it successfully,” said Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. “Please schedule regular screenings to increase the likelihood of early diagnosis and successful treatment.”

As of July 2016, over 1.7 million women ages 50 to 74 had a mammogram through the OBSP, resulting in more than 6.8 million mammograms completed. More than 35,000 breast cancers were found, most of which were in early stages (i.e., were small and had not spread to other areas of the body).

Talk with your healthcare provider today about getting screened for breast cancer with regular mammograms. To learn more visit Screening for Breast Cancer