Thousands of women need breast cancer screening in Kingston backlog

Health officials in the Kingston-area say there are thousands of women who have missed breast cancer screenings during the pandemic, and they are encouraging people to be tested.

Across the province, more than 400,000 fewer breast cancer screenings took place, according to the Ontario Medical Association. 

Here in this part of Southeast Ontario alone, conservative estimates list more than 11,500 people have gone untested, explains Dr. Diane Jabs, a radiologist with the Kingston Health Science Centre.

“The concern is we are missing breast cancers early when we can cure them,” Dr. Jabs explains. “It’s all about curing breast cancer, it’s all about catching those cancers when they’re as tiny as possible can be for us to see them.”

Breast cancer screening is done through the use of a mammogram, taking an X-ray of the breast tissue.

In Kingston, patients can visit Breast Imaging Kingston at 820 John Marks Ave., which is one of the clinics under the Ontario Breast Screening Program. 

The OMA says there is a one in eight chance a woman will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, and many do not have a family history of the disease. 

October is breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Jabs says early detection saves lives. 

“The survival rate with those early detections near 100 per cent,” she explains. “If cancers are left undetected and they grow and they advance in stage…Stage 4 breast cancers have about a 23 per cent survival rate.”

Right now, the centre has about an eight-week wait, but Jabs says more capacity will be opening up soon. 

“We have more capacity to screen, there’s no reason to be hesitant to come and screen,” she says. “And it could save your life.”

To book a breast screening appointment:

  1. Individuals between the ages of 50-74 can call 613-384-4284. They do not require a referral from a doctor or nurse practitioner.
  2. Individuals between the ages of 30-69 who are at high risk of developing breast cancer may be eligible for the High-Risk Screening Program through the OBSP. They should speak to a physician or nurse practitioner to determine if they are eligible and may require further testing.
  3. Individuals aged 75 and older should speak to a physician or nurse practitioner about a referral to BIK. 

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