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Hospital launches new online tool for breast cancer screening

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Journal staff

Bluewater Health is now offering an online referral tool for breast cancer screening, the hospital announced Wednesday.

Individuals aged 50 to 74 can visit bluewaterhealth.ca/mammography to complete the online referral and book a mammography screening via email, a news release noted.

“The online booking option is a groundbreaking and exciting new development here in Ontario; Bluewater Health is one of the first in the province to offer this,” said Dr. Youssef Almalki, the hospital’s medical director, diagnostic imaging.

“The demographic we are encouraging to book their screenings are much more tech savvy – and now it can be done in the click of a button.”

The average mammogram takes less than ten minutes to complete, and it can help to detect cancer early, Bluewater Health noted. Early detection can result in a five-year survival rate approaching 100%. Women should get a ‘baseline’ mammogram and have follow-up mammograms every one to two years depending on their unique health needs.

As of 2020, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer, overtaking lung cancer diagnoses. Bluewater Health’s screening rate, historically, is approximately 68% of eligible people. Given that over 85% of breast cancer patients have no family history of breast cancer, Dr. Almalki says early detection is key. If caught early, the five-year survival rate is close to 100%. If breast cancer is caught late, then the survival rate is 23% at five years.

“Breast cancers can be detected through screening mammography when they are small, with an extremely high success rate,” said Almalki. “We’ve placed a high priority on decreasing the time from test to diagnosis following an abnormal screen, to lessen patients’ anxiety and proceed to treatment as soon as possible.”

Bluewater Health has state-of-the-art mammography, ultrasound and MRI equipment to achieve earlier diagnoses, and recently purchased a new breast coil for MRI. The hpspital is also one of a handful of sites that in recent years achieved OBSP high-risk designation, which sees high-risk individuals aged 30 to 74 screened annually.

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