Alberta Health Services is expanding the number of cancer screenings taking place at its mobile mammography “ScreenTest” trailer which will be in a number of Lakeland communities in the coming weeks.
In addition to offering mammograms, which screen for breast cancer, they will be offering pap tests and the FIT home stool test to screen for cervical and colorectal cancers as well.
According to Joan Hauber, a manager for the Screen Test program they received a grant from Alberta Innovates to run a pilot project trying to address the disparities in cancer screenings between some rural and remote communities and urban centers.
“We wanted to add the cervical and colorectal cancer screening components as well. Just to address some of the disparities and maybe lower participation rates which we see in the northern Alberta communities. So that’s the group we’re focusing on for the pilot project is the North Zone,” said Hauber.
She said it was important to note that they’re not trying to pick on any one community because there are some that are doing very well, but when they looked at their data across all of Alberta the North Zone as a whole had lower participation rates for cancer screenings.
“The whole point [of the program] is to find either the cancer or the pre-cancerous condition early so that treatment can be done so that the cancer will not become aggressive or not spread,” said Hauber.
She said the earlier a cancer is detected, the better the outcomes tend to be because there are more treatment options available than when it is detected at later stages.
Screening for breast cancer is recommended for women ages 50-74, while cervical cancer screening is targeted at women ages 25-69, and the colorectal cancer screening is targeted at both men and women ages 50-74.
“So if a woman calls in to have a mammogram done, we will just make sure that she is aware that the cervical and colorectal screening is also available at that time. And then if she’s interested in that we will just book her both appointments at about a half an hour apart,” said Hauber.
The cervical cancer screening is done through a pap test, when the nurse practitioner or doctor would take a sample of cells from the woman’s cervix.
The FIT home stool test is used to screen for colorectal cancers, and is a kit which can be sent home with patients and returned to the lab in their community.
“But if they have questions that we don’t feel we can answer as in depth as they want, we would just connect them prior to the appointment with the nurse practitioner so they could provide very specific information for them and specific to their own particular situation,” said Hauber.
Appointments can be made by calling Screen Test at 1-800-667-0604.
Breast Cancer Screening Dates
Cervical and Colorectal Cancer Screening Dates
|Bonnyville||Feb. 8- 10
|Cold Lake||Mar. 1-9||Mar. 1-5|
|St. Paul||Mar. 10-20||Mar. 15-19|
|Elk Point||Mar. 22-29||Mar. 22-24|