By Bailey Sutherland, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Cancer Foundation of Saskatchewan has launched a new campaign to raise funds for improving access to breast cancer screening for women in northern and rural communities across the province.

According to a media release from the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency, breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer in women and the second leading cause of their death. An estimated 760 Saskatchewan women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2022 and 170 will die from the disease.

“The screening mammogram is such an important, and potentially life-saving exam. It checks for breast cancer in women who have no signs or symptoms of the disease, so it is an absolutely critical tool in detecting breast cancer at its earliest stages. When cancer is caught early, there can be more treatment options and better outcomes,” said Nora Yeates, CEO of the Cancer Foundation of Saskatchewan. “We know that early detection saves lives.”

The Breast Cancer Screening Bus has been operating since 1990, bringing the exam to nearly 40 rural and remote communities in the province to improve access and help prevent the severe outcomes of breast cancer.

Currently, the bus travels as far north as La Loche and as far south as Estevan.

To ensure the continued access to mammogram screenings for rural and northern Saskatchewan women, the Cancer Foundation of Saskatchewan has committed to raising $2 million by March 31st, 2023, to replace the aging bus and its digital mammography equipment.

“This bus has facilitated more than 250,000 screening mammograms over the past 20 years, and we need to replace it so that it can continue to offer this potentially life-saving exam to thousands more women in the years ahead,” said Yeates.

CEO of the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency, Deb Bulych, said that a new mammography bus will allow the Foundation to continue to reach rural and northern communities to improve the outcomes of breast cancer.

A new Breast Cancer Screening Bus will address all the issues with the current bus, as well as include state-of-the-art mammography equipment. This will enable it to provide leading edge, potentially life-saving mammography screening services well into the future.

The Screening Program for Breast Cancer provides screening mammograms to women who are above 50 years of age, do not have breast implants, do not have symptoms of breast cancer, are not on an active follow-up for breast cancer, and have been cancer free for five years.

Screening programs are available at permanent Saskatchewan Cancer Agency centres in Regina and Saskatoon, and at satellite centres in Lloydminster, Moose Jaw, North Battleford, Prince Albert, Swift Current, and Yorkton.

(Top Photo: A mammogram unit sits inside the Cancer Foundation of Saskatchewan bus. The bus allows women in nearly 40 rural and remote communities to receive mammograms without having to travel. — Submitted photo Bailey Sutherland, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)