There’s a new way for patients who don’t have a primary care provider (family doctor or nurse practitioner) to access breast cancer screening in Northern BC. In collaboration with BC Cancer, Northern Health has identified 40 clinics that support these “unattached” patients for the purpose of screening mammograms and follow-up care as needed. Supporting unattached patients in the Northern Health region is one way to ensure that people are receiving the right care in the right place.
About one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime; unfortunately, in some communities many people don’t have a primary care provider. This may mean that they aren’t accessing health care services and are putting off routine screening or checkups.
Before this process was put in place, unattached patients would have to get a referral from a walk-in clinic, nurse practitioner, or naturopath in order to book a screening appointment. Now, it’s as easy as picking up the phone and calling 1-800-663-9203!
The importance of early detection
The best protection against breast cancer is early detection. Regular screening mammograms can find breast cancer early, usually before it has spread. This makes regular screening one of the most important tools in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.
Heather Wozney, Cancer Care Coordinator for Northern Health, talked about how this program came about.
“We acknowledge that Northern Health has some of the lowest screening rates in the province, and one step towards improving these rates is to provide equal access for breast screening,” she said. “This should not be dependent on whether they have a primary care provider or not. Detecting cancers early improves the prognosis for patients and decreases the extent of treatment required.”
Who’s eligible for screening mammograms?
Mammogram screening is a free service available for women in the Northern Health region, eligible participants aged 40 and older. A referral is NOT required, and people can book an appointment on their own.
Have you been putting off booking your mammogram? There’s no better time than today, and no good reason not to! Whether you have a primary care provider or not, you can book an appointment at a screening centre near you. Visit the BC Cancer clinic locator to find a centre near you, and call 1-800-663-9203 book your appointment today!