A mobile breast cancer screening clinic is rolling its way into Fort McKay next week just in time for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The mobile mammography service, run by Alberta Health Services, is making its way to the community on Oct. 16 and is currently booking patients for the 27 appointments available from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. during the one-day stop.
According to Screen Test manager Joan Hauber, the mobile service is intended to improve access to testing for people in smaller or more remote communities.
“The purpose of a mobile like ours is to provide access to a service that women may not otherwise be able to get easy access to. So we go out into communities where there’s not a mammography facility that’s really near, or sometimes there’s just issues of getting to the nearest mammography facility,” she said. “If there’s reasons that people can’t travel, then we can bring it to them.”
For women in Fort McKay, Fort McMurray is the closest available location for breast cancer screening.
Through Screen Test, mammography technologists travel year round to 106 communities in the province, with High Level being the northernmost community. The two mobile clinics – one for the southern and the other for the northern half of the province – consist of large trailers pulled by semi truck.
Fort McKay has been visited by Screen Test for several years once annually. It is currently the sole community in the Wood Buffalo region to receive the service, but Hauber said that could change.
“We’re always keeping an eye out and if communities are interested in mobile services, they can contact us and we go through a process to make sure it’s a suitable community, because we have a lot of criteria, particularly with our really big trailer,” she said.
Hauber said the mobile service is intended mainly for women between the ages of 50-74, though women as young as 40 or older than 74 are able to get checked out with a referral from their family physicians.
The target patient is one with no symptoms who requires a regular checkup, not for women with problems such as a new lump or nipple discharge, a history of breast cancer or breast implants.
“If they can’t wait or they have a concern with their breasts or anything that’s new or different, then we wouldn’t encourage them to wait until the mobile comes. At that point, we would tell them to go someplace else,” Hauber said.
Appointments are also reserved for women who have not had a mammogram in the last 12 months.
She said women are encouraged to call ahead and make an appointment to ensure they see the technologists.
“If we get a lot of bookings, we may not be able to see walk-ins,” she said. “We try as best we can, but of course, we have to give preference to those ladies who have a scheduled appointment.”
To make an appointment or learn more about Screen Test, call 1-800-667-0604.
For a full schedule of stops, visit http://www.screeningforlife.ca/screentest