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Breast cancer screening in Ontario

Everything you need to know

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women. Early detection helps fight breast cancer and thanks to scientific advances we now know that regular mammograms are the most reliable way to find breast cancer when it’s most treatable.

  • Breast cancer screening guidelines

    The Canadian Cancer Society recommends the following breast cancer screening guidelines.

    If you are:  
    40 to 49 Talk to your doctor about your risk of breast cancer, along with the benefits and risks of mammography.
    50 to 69
    • Have a mammogram every 2 years. This can be done in two simple ways:
      • Getting a referral from a doctor, or
      • Calling the Ontario Breast Screening Program directly at 1-800-668-9304 to make an appointment.
    70 or older Talk to your doctor about how often you should be tested for breast cancer.

    Know your risk

    Women at average risk of developing breast cancer, age 50 and over

    Evidence shows that regular mammograms for women who are at average risk and 50 years or older, are the most effective way to detect breast cancer early. Average risk means you have no other risk factors other than being a woman and being older (i.e. 50 and over).

    Women at high risk of developing breast cancer, age 30 to 69

    In Ontario, women aged 30 to 69 who are at high risk for breast cancer due to genetic factors or a personal or family history suggestive of hereditary breast cancer can receive an annual breast screening MRI and mammogram through the Ontario Breast Screening Program. Women in this group will need a referral from their doctor or nurse practitioner to book for these screening services.

    For more information about breast health and breast screening call the Canadian Cancer Society’s Cancer Information toll-free at 1 888 939-3333.

  • How to get a mammogram

    In Ontario, there are two ways of getting a mammogram once you’re 50 years old and at average risk.

    1. You can get a referral from your healthcare professional

    2. You can call the Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) at 1 800-668-9304 to make an appointment.

    First established in 1990, the Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) is a high quality breast cancer screening service for women living in Ontario. It is operated by Cancer Care Ontario and funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

    The OBSP currently accepts women who fall into the following two categories:

    Women at average risk of developing breast cancer, age 50 and over
    Evidence shows that regular mammograms for women who are at average risk and 50 years or older, are the most effective way to detect breast cancer early. Average risk means you have no other risk factors other than being a woman and being older (i.e. 50 and over).

    Women at high risk of developing breast cancer, age 30 to 69
    In Ontario, women aged 30 to 69 who are at high risk for breast cancer due to genetic factors or a personal or family history suggestive of hereditary breast cancer can receive an annual breast screening MRI and mammogram through the OBSP. Women in this group will need a referral from their doctor or nurse practitioner to book for these screening services.

    To learn more about the OBSP and its newly expanded services for women at high risk aged 30 to 69, visit www.ontario.ca/screenforlife

  • About the Thingamaboob

    To clearly illustrate how important regular mammograms are in detecting breast cancer, the Canadian Cancer Society designed a tool called the Thingamaboob.

    Thingamaboob

    The largest bead shows the size of a lump that can be felt by checking your own breasts. The next smallest shows what might be found through a physical exam by a doctor. The next is what would be detected through a first mammogram. The smallest bead is what would be detected when having regular mammograms.

    The Thingamaboob is used by Women to Women Ambassadors and Canadian Cancer Society volunteers to educate women across Ontario that mammograms saves lives.

  • Women to Women breast cancer campaign

    A movement of women taking action in the fight against breast cancer. The Canadian Cancer Society’s woman mobilizes women to educate other women about breast cancer screening and to raise funds to support breast cancer research.

    Get Involved. Join the Women to Women movement.
    There are different ways you can participate and women of all ages are encouraged to join.

    Act: Make sure to get a mammogram yourself, every two years if you are aged 50-69. If you aren’t yet 50, plan ahead and talk to your doctor when the time comes.

    Share: Encourage the women in your life to learn more about screening and get tested themselves.

    Fundraise: Encourage your family and friends to make a donation to support breast cancer research, or simply donate yourself! Learn more about how Canadian Cancer Society funded breast cancer research makes a difference in the fight against breast cancer.

    Register today to become a Women to Women Ambassador. All the tools you need are at your fingertips once you register. Learn more about what’s involved.

    Not able to become an Ambassador, no problem! Join the fight by donating today!

    Please note, you must be a resident of Ontario to become an Ambassador.

    You can also send an e-card to get the conversation started about breast cancer screening.

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Carrie Walker Boyd Volunteering with the Canadian Cancer Society opened my eyes to just how much work they do for people fighting cancer.

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