BREAST CANCER SCREENING
Aug 19, 2013
By Trevor Shewfelt, Pharmacist at the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy
My kids dont know anything. Emily and Eric were in swimming lessons. Every day Id ask them if they learned anything. Every day the answer was, No. Emily and Eric went to hockey camp. Id ask them if they learned anything. Again, No. Kinda makes me wonder why I spend money on sending the kids to lessons of any kind. After one day of hockey camp I asked Emily if she learned anything and again she said, No, but Id really like to body check this one kid. I asked why. She said, Because he was doing it all wrong. He just kept throwing himself at the boards and bouncing off and he was doing it wrong. At body contact clinic we learned that you should contact someone evenly with your whole upper arm from your shoulder to your elbow. You should maintain your balance with one leg bent beneath you and extend your other leg to push your opponent off the puck. I really wanted to body check him to show him how to do it properly. I was stunned. She was quoting word for word what she had learned at another hockey camp a year ago. So apparently my kids do know some things, no matter how much they deny it.
Here are some things you should know. Cancer Care says breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Manitoba. Cancer Care says 900 women in Manitoba have breast cancer diagnosed every year and 200 women die from it. It is estimated that if we kept track of 1000 Canadian female babies for their whole lives that 111 of them would develop breast cancer. We call that a 1 in 9 lifetime risk of breast cancer.
Risk factors for getting breast cancer include lack of physical activity, cigarette smoking and being female. Yes men can get breast cancer, but they account for less than 1 % of the breast cancer cases. So we cant control whether we are born male or female, but we can control whether we smoke or not and whether we exercise or not.
Despite the common misconception, breast cancer is not an automatic death sentence. To begin with most lumps found in your breasts are benign. Benign means not cancerous. Even if the diagnosis is breast cancer, the average 5 year survival rate for all stages of breast cancer is 86%. That is really good. But the even better news is the survival rate is even higher the earlier the cancer is found. Stage 0 and Stage 1 breast cancer have a 5 year survival rate of 100%! Even Stage 2A has a survival rate of 92%. However, if the breast cancer is not detected early, the survival rate goes down. If breast cancer isnt found until it reaches Stage 4, it only has a 20% 5 year survival rate.
Since survival rate is so much higher if breast cancer is found early, Cancer Care Manitoba runs the BreastCheck program. The goal of the BreastCheck program is to screen 70% of the women in Manitoba aged 50 to 69. That age range is targeted because eighty percent of breast cancers are found in women aged 50 and over. The BreastCheck program has permanent clinics in Winnipeg, Brandon, Thompson and in the Morden/Winkler area. They also send two mobile units to over 85 communities across the province. Screening women with mammograms, as is done by the BreastCheck program, has been shown to reduce the chance of a woman of dying from breast cancer by 23%. Mammograms also detect cancers on average 2-3 years before a woman could feel the lump.
The current recommendations in Manitoba are that women with no symptoms and no breast cancer who are between 50 and 74 should receive a screening mammogram every two years. The good news is the BreastCheck mobile clinic is coming to our area shortly. The mobile breast screening clinic will be at the Winnipegosis Health Center September 17 to 24, and they will be at the Camperville Health Center September 18 to 20. They will be in Grandview and McCreary the end of September to beginning of October as well. To book an appointment call 1-800-903-9290. If you are over 50 and have no symptoms, you dont need an invitation or a doctors referral to get screened.
At the screening clinic, a female technologist will take a special X-ray of your breasts called a mammogram. The technologist will carefully press each breast between two plastic plates. This isnt harmful to the breast and each X-ray only lasts a few seconds. The BreastCheck screening visit will take about 30 minutes.
It is important to remember that mammograms cannot find every breast cancer. About 20 out of every 100 breast cancers cannot be seen on a mammogram. That is why it is important to know how your breasts normally look and feel. If you see or feel something unusual, see your doctor. There is also the possibility of false positives. A false positive is like a false alarm, it might look like cancer, but really isnt cancer. Out of every 100 women screened, 5 will be sent for extra tests. Out of those 5, only one will have cancer. The other 4 will be false positives.
Just like my kids, I bet you have knowledge in your head that you didnt know was there. Isnt it nice when you suddenly need to tie a neck tie, fillet a fish or make a meringue and knowledge you didnt remember was there pops back into your head? So if you are a woman over 50, call the BreastCheck program and get screened. It is knowledge that can actually save your life.
The information in this article is intended as a helpful guide only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice. If you have any questions about your medications and what is right for you see your doctor, pharmacist or other health care professional.
We now have this and most other articles published in the Parkland Shopper on our Website. Please visit us at www.dcp.ca
As always if you have any questions or concerns about these or other products, ask your pharmacist.
Breast Check Program - www.breastcheckmb.ca