Women in east Rocky View County can take advantage of free, life-saving screening mammograms Sept. 12, when the Alberta Health Services Screen Test Mobile Clinic arrives in Langdon.
“We bring mammogram screening to ladies in rural communities across Alberta so they have the ability to be checked for breast cancer regularly,” said Harmony McRae, health promotion facilitator with Screen Test. “That’s a service that may not be available to them in their home communities.”
The mobile clinic will park at the Buy-Low Foods for three days. Women can schedule mammograms between 10:50 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 12, 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 13 or 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sept. 14. Appointments are recommended, McRae said, and can be booked by calling Screen Test’s toll-free number, 1-800-667-0604.
“We still have lots of appointments available,” she added. “We’re about half full right now.”
Langdon is one of about 120 communities the mobile clinic visits in the province, according to McRae. This will be the third visit to the hamlet – the clinic has visited annually since 2017.
The exam is relatively quick and straightforward, McRae said. Upon arriving for an appointment, patients are required to fill out a short questionnaire, which McRae said takes about five minutes. Once the questionnaire is completed, the exam can proceed.
“Normally that’s two images on each side of the breast, so four pictures in total – the whole thing takes about ten minutes,” she said. “And then, you’re free to go home, and you’ll get the results in about two weeks. We’ll also send you a reminder card when you’re due for your next mammogram.”
According to McRae, screening mammograms save lives – the procedure can detect breast cancer two to three years before a tumour is large enough to be felt in a physical examination.
“A lot of people don’t realize that breast cancer is still the most common type of cancer for women, not only in Alberta but across Canada,” she said. “About one out of every eight women in Alberta will be diagnosed in her lifetime.”
Early detection leads to the most effective and less invasive cancer treatment, McRae noted, and increases the chances of survival.
“It’s also one of the reasons why a lot of women are now surviving their breast cancer – about 90 per cent,” she said. “We really want to encourage women to get your regular screening mammogram, because it really can save your life.”
The main target group, according to McRae, is women 50 to 74. That age group should have screening completed every two years – or annually, depending on breast density and family history. The clinic also sees women between 40 and 49 years old; however, a doctor’s note is required for the first mammogram, and future screening should be done annually until they turn 60.
“Mammograms do work and they do find breast cancer early,” McRae said. “I know it’s kind of an uncomfortable exam, but it is a small price to pay for that peace of mind knowing that you’re safe for another year or two. I really want to encourage women, don’t wait until you have a lump or something – this test is for women with healthy breasts and who don’t have any problems.”