Hitting the Road to Improve Cancer Screening Rates

The new Screen for Life Coach is reaching women who have difficulty accessing cancer screening services.
The new Screen for Life Coach is reaching women who have difficulty accessing cancer screening services.

The new Screen for Life Coach is reaching women who have difficulty accessing cancer screening services.
The new Screen for Life Coach is reaching women who have difficulty accessing cancer screening services.

Beating Cancer with Screening and Research

THUNDER BAY – HEALTH – Regional Cancer Care Northwest at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC) is driving access to cancer screening – literally – with the introduction of a new Screen for Life Coach for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening.

The new state-of-the-art coach was launched in July of 2013 and has been providing women in Northwestern Ontario with digital mammography for breast cancer screening, Pap testing for cervical cancer screening, and Colon Cancer Check Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) kits to screen for colorectal cancer. All three of these cancer screening services are part of provincial organized screening programs through Cancer Care Ontario.

Screening for Cancer Early Saves Lives

Supported by Cancer Care Ontario and TBRHSC’s Regional Cancer Care Northwest, the coach offers much needed cancer screening closer to home for women who face barriers to screening, traveling to 60 locations, including First Nation communities across the Northwest.

The Coach gives women ages 50 and over access to three cancer screening services including digital mammograms that screen for breast cancer; Pap test screening for cervical cancer; and a take-home Fecal Occult Blood Test (or FOBT kit) to screen for colon and rectal cancers.

“The Screen for Life Coach bridges vast distances in Northwestern Ontario. It offers care closer to home, providing vital cancer screening services in your neighbourhood and we are very happy to support this new initiative,” says Andrée Robichaud, President and CEO of TBRHSC.

“A main goal of the new Screen for Life Coach is to reach women who have difficulty accessing cancer screening services. We know cancer screening saves lives, and this is another tool we are using to ensure more women have the opportunity to participate in cancer screening,” says Dr. Shannon Wesley, Regional Aboriginal Cancer Lead for Regional Cancer Care Northwest.

Clients who have previously visited the old coach have shown their appreciation for the new coach and its services. Mary Anne Fossum, a long-time client of the Ontario Breast Screening Program, says “I’ve been a client for more than 15 years. It was first suggested to me by my doctor that I should start making regular visits for mammograms. Now I’m excited to hear that not only can I get my mammogram done, but I can also get Pap testing and an FOBT kit.”

Medical Research
Medical treatment and medical research are merging at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre along with Partners

Progress on TBRHSC Strategic Direction: Chronic Disease Prevention and Management

In collaboration with our partners, we will provide an evidence-based system-wide approach to Chronic Disease Prevention and Management that reduces the impact of disease.

Foundation Support

The Foundation provided $56,000 towards two new hemodialysis machines to replace aging units for patients of Renal Services at TBRHSC. Almost $56,000 in grants went to hospitals in Terrace Bay, Sioux Lookout, Red Lake, Kenora and Fort Frances for newer IV infusions pumps for chemotherapy delivery, safer and more comfortable treatment chairs, and equipment to safely store and organize chemotherapy supplies.
A $200,000 grant has enabled the purchase of a second digital mammography unit for the Linda Buchan Centre which is capable of exact and accurate placement of the needle for the tissue sample for breast biopsy. This new unit enhances LBC’s ability to provide timely diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer.

Research Initiative

Scientists like Dr. Chris Phenix, Dr. Boguslaw Tomanek, and Dr. Ingeborg Zehbe at Thunder Bay Regional Research Institute are developing future treatment techniques that will help patients right here in Northwestern Ontario. Among the early cancer detection research projects underway are studies into: improving our understanding of metastasis especially related to breast cancer; earlier detection of prostate cancer using MRI and Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans; and new home screening kits for Aboriginal women, who are at highest risk of cervical cancer. It’s important to point out that these research activities to find tomorrow’s cures are impacting patient care today too. Thanks to these research activities, we now have a PET scanner and a second MRI unit, both of which are used for patient diagnosis as well as to reduce wait times.

To read the entire 2013-2014 Annual Report to the Community, please visit: www.tbrhsc.net.