A mobile mammography clinic is slated to roll into town in the next few weeks.
The program, run through the B.C. Cancer Agency, visits more than 120 rural communities across the province including 35 First Nations communities every year.
It will be parked at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre Jan. 25-28 and Feb. 1-4 and at Shoppers Drug Mart in Parksville (along East Island Highway) Feb. 9-11 and 15-18.
“We know that your chances of getting breast cancer increase as you age,” said screening mammography program operations director Janette Sam. “One in nine women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime and one in 28 are expected to die from it.”
However, Sam said just half of eligible women get screened regularly.
“It has to do with priority. Women are really busy and sometimes we put ourselves last on the list,” she said. “But for this, it’s very important that we put ourselves first on the list.”
According to Sam, a screening mammogram is a quick, easy test that will be over in less than 15 minutes. The “state of the art” mobile clinic mirrors a regular clinic with change rooms, an exam space and digital mammography equipment.
The Oceanside Health Centre does not offer mammography services. The mobile digital mammography coach performs about 10 per cent of the screening mammograms in B.C.
To get a screening mammogram with the Vancouver Island Coastal mobile digital mammogram coach, patients do not need a doctor referral however they are encouraged to book an appointment in advance.
Once the exam is completed the results will be sent directly to the patient.
Sam said women in B.C. are eligible to start screening at age 40. She recommends people with a family history of breast cancer to get screened annually and those without a family history to get screened every two years.
The mobile screening program has been operating in B.C. since 1992 and usually services Parksville Qualicum Beach three to four times per year. The mobile service can see up to 60 women every day. Appointments are free of charge. To book, or for more information, call 1-800-663-9203.