This year’s theme for #IWD2021 is #ChooseToChallenge. We want to hug whoever chose it. Every day, we #ChooseToChallenge the inequities impacting the health of Canadian women. We know that Canadian women’s lives can be saved by eliminating inequalities surrounding early detection of breast cancer.

Here are inequalities we would like to see eliminated.

Inequality #1 Why should a cancer diagnosis be delayed or missed because of where you live?

  1. Shouldn’t all women in their 40s be able to book their own mammograms? That’s the case in only 3 provinces (BC, NS, PEI) and YT. Elsewhere, women must ask their physicians for a requisition. We hear too many women being denied.
  2. Shouldn’t all women, 50-74, be able to get annual mammograms? That’s the case in only 3 provinces (ON, SK, AB). Elsewhere, women have to wait for 2 years.
  3. Shouldn’t all women be told their breast density? In only 6 provinces (BC, AB, MB, NS, NB, PEI) are women told their breast density in their mammogram results letter. Elsewhere, women are currently denied this information about their cancer risk.
  4. Shouldn’t all women with Category D density get annual mammograms? In only 4 provinces (ON, SK, NL, PEI) and NWT are women with the highest category of density invited to return annually for mammograms.
  5. Shouldn’t all women over 75 be able to book their own mammograms? That’s the case in 5 provinces (BC, SK, MB, NS, NL) and NWT. Elsewhere, women need a requisition.

Inequality #2 Why are racial disparities ignored?

Let’s #ChooseToChallenge the inequality that results from breast screening guidelines that ignore racial disparities. One size does not fit all. Black, Asian and Hispanic women are 40% more likely to die of breast cancer than white women. Black women under age 50, have a death rate double that of white women. The guidelines do not take into account how Black, Asian and Hispanic women can benefit from annual screening starting at 40 and more frequent screening in their 50s.

Inequality #3 Why were there no breast cancer screening experts involved in making our breast screening guidelines?

Let’s #ChooseToChallenge dangerous breast cancer screening guidelines for 8 million women aged 40-74 that are made by a chiropractor, psychologist, OT, and a kidney specialist, with no input from breast cancer screening experts. If these guidelines are followed, modeling shows that 1100 Canadian women will die annually.

Inequality #4 Why are young women dismissed?

Let’s #ChooseToChallenge the inequality young women face when they see their doctor about a lump or symptom and are dismissed as being too young to have breast cancer, only to be diagnosed at a more advanced stage later. Recent studies show breast cancer rates are increasing in younger women.

Inequality #5 Why is this patriarchal nonsense being used to deny women a mammogram?   

Let’s #ChooseToChallenge the patriarchal excuses our physicians perpetuate by telling women in their 40s that mammograms are not recommended because woman may face a call back for more images, and this will make them too anxious. 400 lives every year could be saved if we screened Canadian women in their 40s.

Inequality # 6 Why are women denied access to technology that can save lives?

Let’s #ChooseToChallenge the minimal use of technology that can find cancer earlier. Canada is years and years behind the US. Let’s use 3D mammography, ultrasound, abbreviated MRI, MRI, Contrast Enhanced MRI and MBI to save lives.

Inequality #7 Ignoring the financial repercussions of later stage diagnoses

Let’s #ChooseToChallenge the financial difficulties many women endure when faced with a cancer diagnosis. Early detection can allow women to avoid aggressive surgery and treatment and the resulting lack of income from being unable to work.

Sadly, we could keep adding to this list. For now, let’s close with this:

Let’s #ChoosetoChallenge the fact that saving government money comes before saving the lives of Canadian women.

If you would like to help us challenge these inequities, please contact us at info@densebreastScanada.ca

Thank you.