Important Preventive Care Screening Info For All Practice Patients

As you know, our office has been pleased to provide you with the best available medical attention possible. As part of the Ministry of Health Preventive Care Initiative, if you have not received the following screenings within the past two years (or year in the case of a flu shot), please consider this as your first reminder to book an appointment with our receptionist at 416-398-7355.

Below you will find some information that will help you understand who is eligible for the tests, benefits and risks of the procedures, and reasons why you should get tested. If you have any other questions we may be able to help answer, please don't hesitate to book an appointment to discuss these matters more fully.

Mammogram - High risk group (women between the ages of 50 and 69 inclusive)

In Canada, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women affecting 1 in 9 Canadians. As women get older, the chance of getting breast cancer rises. Mammograms can help to find small breast cancers before there are signs and symptoms. If breast cancer is found at an early stage there is a high rate of successful treatment. As well, finding cancer early may allow for more treatment options such as breast conserving surgery or less aggressive treatment.

A mammogram is a low dose x-ray that produces an image of the inner breast tissue on film. This technique, called mammography, is used to visualize normal and abnormal structures within the breasts. Mammography, therefore, can help in identifying cysts, calcifications, and tumors within the breast. It is currently the most effective way to detect early breast cancer. While mammography can discover a small cancer in a curable stage, it is not foolproof. Ten to fifteen percent of breast cancers are not identified by mammography and are found by physical examination. It is essential for a woman to perform monthly BSE and have a breast examination by her doctor in addition to the mammogram in order to most effectively screen for breast cancer.

What are the risks of mammography?

Because x-ray procedures use radiation, there is some risk of radiation's effects to the body cells. The amount of radiation that is administered in mammography is exceptionally low and is approved by national and international regulatory agencies.

Pap Test - High risk group (women between the ages of 35 and 69 inclusive)

Cervical cancer begins in the part of the uterus or womb that opens to the vagina. The Pap smear test is the best way to determine whether the cells of your cervix have undergone any pre-cancerous changes. Regular screening allows pre-cancerous cells to be identified and extracted before they become a threat to your body.

Risks and Benefits?

Benefits are the potential early detection of cervical cancer and treatment before it becomes a major problem. Risks are a few minutes of discomfort during the procedure. There is a small chance of a false positive test (test comes back positive when it really isn't), which could cause needless anxiety until the test is redone.

Colon Cancer Screening Test - High risk group (both men and women between the ages of 50 and 74 inclusive)

Ontario has one of the highest rates of colorectal cancer in the world. Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer in women after breast cancer, and in males it is ranked with prostate and lung cancer as being one of the most common types of cancer. Fecal occult blood testing is a very effective way for me to detect colorectal cancer at an early stage. The probability of curing colorectal cancer is 90% when it is detected early.

Even if you are not experiencing any symptoms, colorectal cancer may be detected using the Fecal Occult Blood Test. The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care recommends that if you are a man or a woman over 50 years of age, you should have an FOBT every one or two years. Studies show that regular FOB testing may lower the mortality rate of CRC by 15 to 33 percent.

If you have received a colonoscopy in the past five years, the Fecal Occult Blood Test is not necessary unless recommended by your physician.

Flu Shot - High risk group (all patients 65 yrs of age and older)

Influenza (commonly known as "the flu") is a serious, acute respiratory illness that is caused by a virus. People who get influenza may experience fevers, chills, cough, runny eyes, stuffy nose, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, extreme weakness and fatigue. Illness due to influenza usually lasts two to seven days; sometimes longer in the elderly and in people with chronic diseases. In elderly people, the influenza vaccine can prevent pneumonia and hospitalization in about 60% of cases, and can prevent death in 80% of cases.

Childhood Immunization - High risk group (patients 18 months to 24 months of age)

Vaccines in Canada are safe, and the benefits of immunization far outweigh the risks. There is no reason to suffer from a disease if there is a safe and effective way to prevent it. Many youngsters have some swelling or tenderness at the spot where the vaccine is injected, and some may also develop a mild fever, but these reactions are minor and temporary. Serious side effects such as severe allergic reactions can occur, but are extremely rare, and occur in Canada less often than once per million doses of vaccine.

On the other hand, the diseases that vaccines fight pose serious threats. Diseases such as polio, diphtheria, measles, and whooping cough can lead to paralysis, pneumonia, choking, brain damage, heart problems, and even death in children who are not protected.