Alberta Health Services has announced the mobile mammography service will be returning to Siksika Nation near the end of June, and will be locally available for several days.

The mobile mammography trailer, operated through the Alberta Health Services Screen Test Program, will arrive in Siksika Nation June 28 and will be stationed there until June 30. 

Women ages 45 to 74 will be eligible to book an appointment with the trailer, which will be free to access with their Alberta Health card.

“The mobile trailer is owned by Screen Test, (which) is a service of the screening programs division of Alberta Health Services that provides breast cancer screening mammograms around the province,” said Chidi Okoli, health promotion facilitator, who spoke on behalf of Screen Test. “Currently, Screen Test has two mobile trailers, and these trailers are equipped with digital mammography machines, and they travel to 121 communities across the province. This includes 28 Indigenous communities – so Siksika is one of them.”

Okoli explained having routine mammograms has proven to be the most effective way to discover breast cancer early, when tumors are still small, there are more treatment options, and patients have a higher rate of survival. 

Feedback from visited communities, she added, includes comments from folks who said if the trailers did not visit their communities, they would not receive screenings, and who acknowledged the importance of the mobile trailers. 

“Sometimes transportation can be a barrier, having to drive all the way into a city to receive a screening. For the trailers, we also have evening appointments to also accommodate for people who work during the day,” said Okoli. “The mobile schedule is planned in such a way that the trailer gets to a community when clients are due for another mammogram. Some clients have their mammogram once a year, while some have their mammograms once every two years.”

Through the trailers, mammograms are not offered to cisgender males, as the program is not designed for them. If a male has concerns regarding his breasts, Okoli advised that assistance can be obtained via his regular health care provider. 

Symptoms of breast cancer to keep an eye out for can include lumps in the breast or armpit areas, unusual chance in the shape and/ or size of the breast, unusual rash on the breast or nipple, discharge from the nipple, or the nipple turning inward upon itself. 

Appointments with the trailer can be scheduled online at screeningforlife.ca or by phone at 1-800-667-0604. More information about breast cancer, as well as cervical, colorectal and lung cancer screenings is available online. Screening appointments are generally estimated to take between 10 and 20 minutes to complete. 

By John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 22, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Strathmore Times   Strathmore, Alberta

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