This post started off with a list of healthy measures women could do to prioritize their health. Healthy diets, exercise, minimal alcohol use and other steps can go a long way to preventing cancers. These are super important, but breast cancer can still happen to women exercising, watching their weight, avoiding alcohol, and on and on. Breast cancer can happen to anyone. We need to find breast cancer early for the best prognosis and to avoid aggressive treatments and surgery.
After years of advocacy, we have no answer as to why we do not have equitable and optimal polices that promote early detection. We ask governments in ON, NL and QC why they’re in favour of withholding potentially life saving information about a woman’s breast density. We ask governments in ON SK MB QC NL NB why they’re in favour of withholding potentially lifesaving screening starting at age 40. We ask all governments (except AB and BC) why they’re in favour of withholding potentially lifesaving ultrasound from women with dense breasts. And the list goes on as seen in our report Failing Canadian Women: The Impacts of Outdated and Inconsistent Breast Screening Practices. Experts have been telling our politicians that hundreds of women are dying needlessly every year because of dangerous breast screening guidelines. We can do so much better breast screening in Canada and save lives.
What happened to the national participation target rate for Canada of 70% of eligible Canadian women being screening for breast cancer? In NB, 52 percent of women are getting mammograms. In BC, it’s 54 percent. In SK, it is only 39%. In ON, only 4 percent of women in their 40s are getting screened. In QC, women are no longer part of the screening program after 69. We have technology that can find more cancers but we do not use it optimally. So, while our governments and screening programs are content with the status quo, we cannot be. We know many of the 5400 deaths from breast cancer every year in Canada were avoidable. We need recognition of dangerous policies and we need action to implement policies that promote the early detection of breast cancer.
What you can do:
Book your mammogram, find out your density and tell a friend to do the same.
Visit mybreastscreening.ca to learn about the policies in your province and how to advocate for screening that meets your needs.
Take 3 minutes to email your health minister the provincial letter found on the footer of densebreastscanada.ca Email addresses are on the letter.
Consider helping us with advocacy. Let’s work together to get the breast screening we need and deserve.
Let’s make every day National Women’s Health Week.