Cancer Screening Programs

Breast Cancer Screening

PUBLIC NOTICE: Replacement of Mammography Machines at Inuvik Regional Hospital and Stanton Territorial Hospital

Breast Cancer screening generally involves a visual and physical examination, and getting a mammogram. A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast that uses low doses of radiation to find unusual lumps, masses or tumors in the breast tissue. These findings can either be cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (benign). Our Breast Cancer Screening Program offers screening with a mammogram and breast health education to eligible women, in order to detect breast cancer early. Breast cancer screening is important, as finding breast cancer early makes it easier to treat.

For all breast cancer screening questions, email: breastcancercoordinator@gov.nt.ca 

Who should be screened for Breast Cancer?

The NWT Breast Cancer Screening Clinical Practice Guidelines recommend that women of average risk aged 45 to 74 are screened every two years.  If you are considered to be high risk for getting breast cancer it is recommended that you are screened yearly with a mammogram or other appropriate imaging as recommended by the radiologist.  

You are considered high risk if:

  • You have confirmed mutations of BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes
  • You have had previous radiation treatment to the chest area especially before the age of 30
  • You have a 1st degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has had breast cancer or ovarian cancer
  • You have personal history of ovarian cancer
  • You had a previous breast biopsy with Atypical Ductal Hyperplasia (ADH)

If you or a family member has already had cancer, or you are experiencing any unusual signs or symptoms (nipple discharge, lumps, new nipple retraction or inversion, dimpling of the breast, or abnormal skin thickening), talk to your primary care provider about your options for cancer screening. You could be eligible for breast cancer screening.  

How can I get screened?

Mammography units are currently located in Yellowknife, Hay River, and Inuvik.  If you live in a community without a mammography unit your health care provider will refer you to the appropriate facility to access screening services and your travel costs will be covered by Medical Travel.  Each of our mammography units serves different regions.  Read below to determine where your mammography appointment will take place and if you can refer yourself or will need to visit your primary care provider to get referred:

Stanton Territorial Hospital Breast Screening Program (STH BSP)  
This program covers breast screening for residents of Yellowknife, N’dilǫ, Dettah, Behchokǫ, Wekweètì, Whatì, and Gamètì. 

  • If you live in Yellowknife, N’dilǫ, or Dettah you can call the STH BSP (867) 765-4020 and refer yourself into the program. 
  • If you live in a Tłįchǫ community, you cannot refer yourself into the STH BSP program at this time. You will need to see your primary care provider and have a referral sent to the STH BSP.

Stanton Territorial Hospital Diagnostic Imaging Department 

This program covers breast screening for residents of Łutsël K’é, Fort Resolution, Deline, Tulita, Norman Wells, Fort Good Hope, Colville Lake, and the Kitikmeot Region of Nunavut, including Cambridge Bay, Gjoa Haven, Kugaaruk, Kugluktuk and Taloyoak.

  • If you live in a Sahtu community, you cannot refer yourself into the Stanton Territorial Hospital Diagnostic Imaging Department at this time. You will need to see your primary care provider and have a referral sent to the Stanton Territorial Hospital Diagnostic Imaging Department. 

Hay River Hospital Breast Screening Program (HR BSP) 
This program covers breast screening for residents of Hay River, K’atlo’odeeche, Enterprise, Fort Liard, Fort Simpson, Jean Marie River, Nahanni Butte, Sambaa K’e, Wrigley, Fort Providence, Kakisa, Fort Smith, and Fort Resolution. 

  • If you live in Hay River, K’atlo’odeeche, or Enterprise you can call the HR BSP (867) 874-7223 and self-refer yourself into the program. 
  • If you live in a Dehcho community, you cannot refer yourself into the HR BSP at this time. You will need to see your primary care provider and have a referral sent to the HR BSP. 

Inuvik Regional Hospital Diagnostic Imaging Department 
This program covers breast screening for the residents of the Beaufort Delta region.

  • If you live in a Beaufort Delta community, you cannot refer yourself into the Inuvik Regional Hospital Diagnostic Imaging Department at this time. You will need to see your primary care provider and have a referral sent to the Inuvik Regional Hospital Diagnostic Imaging Department. 

What to bring to your mammogram appointment

Arrive 15-20 minutes early to check in for your mammogram appointment. To check-in, you will be required to show:

  • Your health care card
  • A piece of photo identification

What to Expect during your Mammogram Posters:

How to prepare for your test

Before your mammogram, please shower and don’t use deodorant, antiperspirant, body lotion, or any other products under your arms or on your breasts, as these products can interfere with the accuracy of the test.   When you go to your appointment, wear clothing that is easy to remove from the waist up, and remove any necklaces or jewellery that might get in the way during your test.

If you are concerned that the test could be painful, this could help:

  • Avoid having the mammogram in the 7-10 days leading up to your menstrual period.
  • Consider taking a mild pain medication an hour before your test.

Getting your results

After your mammogram, it will take about two weeks for a radiologist to review your results and create a report with the findings.  On the report the radiologist will recommend when you should have your next mammogram.  A copy of this report will be sent to your primary care provider or the practitioner that referred you to the program.  

If you are in the areas served by the Stanton Territorial Hospital Breast Screening Program or the Hay River Hospital Breast Screening Program, you will receive a letter with your results in the mail and you will automatically be recalled for your next appointment at the time recommended by the radiologist in the report.  It is good for you to know when it is and to follow up to ask when you are due to be screened again.

Depending on your results, some women may be required to get further testing.  If you require further testing and are part of the Breast Screening Program, a follow-up appointment will be made for you and you will be contacted by phone with the appointment time, date, and details. If you need further testing and are outside the Breast Screening Program areas, your primary care provider will send a requesting for further testing.

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