The BC Cancer Agency asks that women ages 40 and older book their free screening in advance at 1-800-663-903.

The BC Cancer Agency asks that women ages 40 and older book their free screening in advance at 1-800-663-903.

Free mammograms available next week

Free breast cancer screenings are coming to Lake Cowichan next week, using state-of-the-art equipment from the BC Cancer Agency.

Free breast cancer screenings are coming to Lake Cowichan next week, using state-of-the-art equipment from the BC Cancer Agency.

Women over the age of 40 are urged to book an appointment with the agency, which will be parking one of its new mammography screening buses at Saywell Park on March 17 and 18.

“We do know that one woman in nine will get breast cancer in their lifetime and that’s why we really encourage women to take advantage of screening,” said Janette Sam, operations director for the screening mammography program.

“The majority of women who go in to have a screening mammogram, don’t have any symptoms or problems they’re aware of and so they are quite surprised when they do find that they may have breast cancer. And that’s because we’re able to find these things when they’re so small you wouldn’t be able to find them normally.”

The test is similar to the older style mammograms, except instead of using x-ray film it uses digital receptors and computers to examine breast tissue.

Two pictures of each breast are taken and sent to a radiologist to be examined. BC Cancer Agency then sends the results by mail both to patients and to their family doctors.

Sam said the whole process takes between 10 and 15 minutes. However, the agency still requires people to call ahead and book their appointment in advance.

A doctor’s referral is not required in order to make an appointment.

“We are fortunate that we’ve got this great service around the province and it’s so widely available to women and we don’t really have much in the way of wait lists,” said Sam.

“I think for women it’s about getting that peace of mind that they’re being proactive about their health and if there is something [detected] it’s something they can get on with right away and get back to living a healthy and normal life.”

To book an appointment, phone: 1-800-663-9203.

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