Hospital employees were thinking pink on Friday, an attempt to increase awareness for breast cancer screening.
Dozens of staffers at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre incorporated the colour into their wardrobe, wearing pink shirts, skirts, pants and scarves to promote the importance of early detection of the deadly disease.
Tarja Heiskanen, the manager of screening and assessment services at the hospital, said October is breast cancer awareness month, and said the look is what brings attention to the cause.
“Everyone wearing pink just states they are getting the message and understand the importance of breast screening. I think visitors walking by today would have seen a lot of pink and would understand that it’s breast cancer awareness month,” Heiskanen said.
While women in Northwestern Ontario appear to be getting the message – upward of 70 per cent of women aged 50 to 74 have been screened – there’s always room for improvement.
And there’s a new target audience each year, Heiskanen said.
“The demographic keeps changing. Women continue to turn 50, so we’re finding we’re seeing some decline in people who were turning 50 coming out and getting breast screened. We really want women who were born in 1963, for example, just turning 50, to come out and get screened for breast cancer,” she said.
According to statistics provided by the hospital, regular mammograms conducted on women between 50 and 74 can reduce deaths from the disease by as much as 21 per cent.
It’s simple math, says Mark Henderson, the hospital’s executive vice-president of patient service and the regional vice-president at Cancer Care Ontario.
“Screening finds breast cancer earlier, when there are more treatment options and an improved chance of survival,” Henderson said in a release. “With appropriate screening and early detection, the number of breast cancer survivors can only increase. We encourage all eligible women in Ontario to take care of your health and get screened.”
Ontario Breast Screening Program guidelines recommend women between ages 50 and 74 have a mammography performed biennially. Women between 30 and 69 who have been identified as high risk should discuss screening options with their health-care provider.
Women in the first category can call OBSP to book an appointment without a referral at 1-800-461-7031, or in Thunder Bay at 684-7777.
Henderson recommends discussing options with a family doctor or health practitioner first.
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