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The truth about having a mammogram Regina SK

A mammogram is the most effective method of breast cancer screening and detection. However, many women do not get an annual mammogram.

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The truth about having a mammogram

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(NC)-October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and across the province the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation will be holding events to encourage women to have a mammogram.

A mammogram is the most effective method of breast cancer screening available because it is able to detect a tumour as small as an orange seed, whereas an untrained breast self-examination is often unable to detect tumours until they are much larger.

However, across B.C. only 50% of eligible women are having a regular mammogram.

In this province, the Screening Mammography Program (SMP) recommends that women should know their own bodies and regularly look for any changes and begin doing so at an early age, and should begin having mammograms at age 40.

"While we are seeing greater numbers of women having mammograms, a significant number of B.C. women don't understand the importance of having one," said Dr. Moira Stilwell, Head of Nuclear Medicine, St. Paul's Hospital, Surrey Memorial Hospital, and Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre. "Many women have a false sense of security when they feel healthy or don't have a history of breast cancer in the family, and they use this as an excuse not to book their mammography appointment."

Surveys point to misinformation, and three commonly held myths as one of the reasons why women are not having mammograms:

• A mammogram is not necessary because breast cancer doesn't run in the family;

• A mammogram is painful; and,

• Getting a mammogram is unnecessary due to age.

In fact, only five-10 per cent of breast cancer cases are hereditary, and 83 per cent of women report being satisfied with their overall mammography appointment, a process which only takes a few minutes.

Women between the ages of 40 and 79 should have a regular mammogram and can book a free examination without a doctor's referral through one of B.C.'s Screening Mammography Centres. Additionally, SMP offers a mobile van service that conducts mammograms and visits to approximately 100 communities throughout B.C. at least twice a year.

To book a mammogram anywhere in B.C., simply call 1-888-GOHAVE-1 (1-888-464-2831). For more information about mammograms, visit www.gohave1.com and remember to visit www.cbcf.org to find out about events in your community during Canadian Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

- News Canada