Sarnia-Lambton OHT Partners Collaborate to Improve Access to Cancer Screening for Indigenous Communities
LAMBTON COUNTY – October 17, 2023 – This month, cancer screening clinics for local Indigenous communities are taking place at Bluewater Health through collaborative efforts among the Sarnia-Lambton OHT, Kettle & Stony Point First Nation, Aamjiwnaang First Nation, Walpole First Nation, the Sarnia-Lambton Native Friendship Centre, North Lambton Community Health Centre, Lambton Elderly Outreach and Bluewater Health.
Regular screening for cancer prevention is an important step in overall health maintenance, and early detection can help save lives. Indigenous communities often face barriers in accessing routine screening and testing. These clinics, taking place on October 12, 26 and 27, aim to make screening more accessible through scheduling appointments for mammograms and PAP tests, and offering transportation options to get to the hospital.
“One of the OHT’s strategic goals is to create healthier communities and improve health outcomes for all residents of Sarnia-Lambton,” says Nadine Neve, Interim Executive Lead, Sarnia-Lambton OHT. “Part of this work also looks to reduce health inequities among our population – and holding screening days for Indigenous communities is just one way we are working towards this goal, and our strong partnerships have helped tremendously.”
Breast cancer is the single leading cause of cancer death in women under age 60 and is, as of 2020, the most common cancer diagnosed worldwide. Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer amongst both Indigenous and non-Indigenous women in Canada, however, it is often diagnosed later in Indigenous women, as communities lack equal access to breast cancer screening. Early screening and diagnosis can improve health outcomes drastically – if caught early, the five-year survival rate is close to 100%, compared to the survival rate of 23% at five years if caught late. The average mammogram takes just five minutes to book and less than 10 minutes to complete, and it can help detect cancer sooner than other methods can.
“By some point in our lives, many of us will know someone close to us – mother, sister, daughter, spouse, friend or ourselves – affected by breast cancer. The goal of screening is to find cancer early, even before symptoms are apparent, so that cancer can be treated, extending our time with loved ones,” says Dr. Youssef Almalki, Medical Director, Diagnostic Imaging, Bluewater Health.
Women should get a ‘baseline’ mammogram and have follow-up mammograms every one to two years depending on their unique health needs. Sarnia-Lambton women aged 50 to 54 in particular are invited to book a first-time mammogram appointment at Bluewater Health. No referral from a doctor is required. They can call 519-464-4515 or use the self-referral tool to book an appointment that suits their availability.