“It’s time to get back to breast screening”

News / Cancer Care / Diagnostic Imaging Care

COVID-19 pandemic contributes to growing list of individuals in southeastern Ontario overdue for breast screening

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and experts at Kingston Health Sciences Centre’s (KHSC) new Breast Imaging Kingston (BIK) facility are encouraging eligible individuals to book an appointment for a mammogram. The push is part of a campaign aimed at improving breast screening rates in our region, which have declined through the COVID-19 pandemic.

While there were some individuals who were overdue for a mammogram prior to the pandemic, an additional 11,500 people in southeastern Ontario were added to the backlog directly as a result of COVID-19. This number does not include individuals who are not yet registered through the Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP).

Breast cancer is the most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death for women. In fact, there is a one in nine chance that a woman will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Research shows that for every 200 mammograms performed, one person will be found to have breast cancer.

“With the various shut-downs during COVID, and as individuals have understandably stayed at home during the pandemic, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of people overdue for breast screening,” says KHSC Radiologist, Dr. Doris Jabs. “We really want to stress that it’s now time to get back to breast screening. Proactive screening is the best method to catch cancer early while it is more easily treated, and people have much higher survival rates.”

Breast screening is done through the use of a mammogram, which is an x-ray of the breast tissue. It takes about 10 minutes to complete and can find cancers before symptoms have developed, when it is too small to be felt, and is less likely to have spread to other areas of the body.

“It’s important to note that many individuals who have breast cancer have no prior family history of the disease, which makes screening so crucial,” says Dr. Jabs.

To book a breast screening appointment:

  • Individuals between the ages of 50-74 can call 613-384-4284. They do not require a referral from a doctor or nurse practitioner.
  • 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.
  • Individuals 75 and older should speak to a physician or nurse practitioner about a referral to BIK. 

Screening is offered seven days per week at Breast Imaging Kingston, KHSC’s state-of-the-art facility which opened earlier this year. Located at 820 John Marks Avenue and open Monday-to-Friday 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and weekends from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., it combines services from the Hotel Dieu Hospital site and the former OBSP site providing all breast imaging services under one roof. The BIK team performs about 250 breast screening mammograms per-week, but has the capacity to do as many as 500 per-week.

For more information about breast screening and BIK visit: www.kingstonhsc.ca/bik