Breast Screening Program Generating Successes


THUNDER BAY – The Ontario Breast Screening Program has provided high-quality mammograms to over 32,000 women in the Northwest since its launch in April 1992. In Northwestern Ontario, 598 cancers have been detected by OBSP. In the 20 years since it was founded, the Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) has provided more than 3.6 million screens to more than 1.1 million women across Ontario aged 50-69 and detected more than 19,000 cancers in the province – the majority in the early stages. Between 1990 and 2007, breast cancer mortality rates in Ontario women aged 50-69 decreased by 35 per cent.

“Routine mammograms are the most important step a woman between the ages of 50 and 69 can take to detect breast cancer early,” says Dr. Linda Rabeneck, Vice President Prevention and Cancer Control, Cancer Care Ontario. “Early detection of breast cancer gives women more effective treatment options and a better chance for a successful recovery.”

OBSP now delivers services through 153 screening sites across the province including a mobile coach in Northwestern Ontario. Five OBSP satellite sites are located in the Northwest including; Thunder Bay Medical Centre, CML Imaging at Port Arthur Health Centre, Linda Buchan Centre at TBRHSC, Riverside Healthcare Facilities in Fort Frances, Lake of the Woods District Hospital in Kenora.

“OBSP Northwest is reaching more women than other regions of Ontario and it consistently delivers high-quality services to women who live in remote and under-screened communities, improving equitable access to cancer screening across the board,” says Michael Power, Regional Vice President, Cancer Care Ontario and VP, Cancer and Diagnostic Services TBRHSC.

Rates of participation are higher in the Northwest compared to the rest of the province; in LHIN 14, 69% of eligible women aged 50-69 participated in biennial screening – compared to 66 per cent in the province. Yet, there are still too many women who are not getting screened. OBSP Northwest aims to screen over 11,050 women this year.

“This program is saving lives and women who participate in OBSP Northwest return to the program regularly at high rates. In fact, the Northwest has the highest retention rate in the province,” says Lori Della Vedova, Manager, Screening Programs, Regional Cancer Care Northwest.

As part of the OBSP 20th Anniversary celebration, OBSP Northwest is holding a Breast Screening Challenge. The challenge will take place on October 18 from 8am-8pm. The goal is to provide breast screening mammograms to 160 new clients in one day. Women aged 50-69 across Northwestern Ontario are encouraged to participate at one of our 5 satellite sites. To make an appointment simply call: 684-7777 or drop-in to the OBSP Mobile Coach on October 18 from 8 am – 8 pm. It will be parked at Intercity Shopping Centre at the entrance beside Zellers, near the GNC and Pearle Vision shops.

*All new clients who participate in the Breast Screening Challenge will receive a free Thingamaboob and will be entered into a draw for a $50 gift card. “Thingamaboob” is the Canadian Cancer Society’s educational tool designed to inform women about the importance of having regular breast screening mammograms for the early detection of breast cancer.

Prevention and Screening: It is important that women talk to their health care providers about breast screening and to also learn about other screening programs for cervical and colorectal cancer. Women are advised to talk to their health care provider if any of the following changes occur to their breasts:

  • A lump or dimpling
  • Changes in your nipple or fluid leaking from your nipple
  • Redness or skin changes that do not go away
  • Any other changes in your breasts

Most changes are not cancerous but all changes should be checked by a health care provider. In addition to regular mammography and being breast aware, women can take the following additional steps to reduce their risk of developing breast cancer:

  • Maintain a healthy body weight, especially after menopause.
  • Be physically active.
  • Have no more than one alcoholic drink per day, if at all.
  • Be a non-smoker and avoid second-hand smoke.
  • Minimize time on hormone replacement therapy, if used. This should be discussed with their health care provider before making any changes.

To celebrate 20 years of providing high-quality breast screening for Ontario women, the OBSP will be hosting a number of regional initiatives during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

To book an appointment with OBSP call: 1-800-461-7031. In Thunder Bay call: 684-7777.

For more information on breast, cervical and colorectal screening, visit  For more information on the Canadian Cancer Society’s Thingamaboob visit:

Cancer Care Ontario continually improves cancer services so that fewer people get cancer and patients receive better care.

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