LAKELAND – Lac La Biche County will be one of the first stops in the new year for the Screen Test Mobile Unit’s tour throughout the province, with some tentative dates planned for other Lakeland communities.
The Screen Test Mobile, which offers digital mammograms, is slated to arrive in Lac La Biche on Jan. 9 and offer appointments until Jan. 18.
Tentative plans by the Screening Programs division of Alberta Health Services (AHS) indicate that the mobile screening clinic will travel to Cold Lake between February to March.
No dates have been confirmed past January 2023.
A mammogram screening is simply an x-ray of breasts that looks for abnormalities in the tissue, such as lumps, cysts, or other changes in breast tissue.
Women eligible for breast cancer screening
Women 45 to 74 years of age can call 1-800-667-0604 to confirm the arrival of Screen Test dates in their community and to book an appointment.
As women get older the chance of breast cancer increases. For that reason, women in Alberta are encouraged to start making mammograms part of their regular health routine, according to AHS.
For women who under the age of recommend biennial screenings, between 40 to 44, AHS states, “It’s less clear that the benefits of mammograms outweigh the risks for women in this age group.”
Women under the age of 45 are recommended to talk to their healthcare provider about the risk of breast cancer and if there is a need for mammogram screenings.
The need for breast cancer screening for women who are 75 and older varies on an individual bases, according to AHS information.
“The benefits of continuing to screen once you turn 75 depend on your personal health (how healthy you are overall). Talk to your healthcare provider about whether or not continuing to have mammograms is right for you,” states the provincial health authority.
Women over 75 will require a referral to book a Screen Test appointment.
What to expect at a mammogram appointment
When attending a mammogram appointment, whether for the first time or the seventh time, all patients are required to fill in a short questionnaire about breast health and any family history of breast cancer.
A mammogram itself takes about 10 minutes, however the whole appointment typically lasts roughly 45 minutes, states AHS.
During a Screen Test appointment four x-rays are taken, one from the top and one from the side of each breast.
“For each x-ray, a paddle is lowered over the breast to flatten (compress) it for a few seconds. Flattening the breast reduces the amount of radiation needed for the x-ray and helps to make the picture on x-ray clearer,” outlines information provided by AHS.
“While having the breast flattened can be uncomfortable, it shouldn’t hurt.”
Tests are read by a radiologist and results are sent to the patient as well as their overseeing physician by mail within about two weeks. All test results come with recommendations about when a patient should return for their next mammogram.
Watch for unusual symptoms
When unusual symptoms occur in relation to breasts and breast tissue, for both women and men, it is important to contact a physician immediately, states AHS.
Unusual symptoms can include but are not limited to a lump in a breast or armpit, unusual fluid coming from the nipple, or dimpling or thickening of skin in one area of the breast.
For more information on the Screen Test Mobile Clinic, visit screeningforlife.ca