EDITORIAL: Help celebrate all of our women

New technology can help more women survive breast cancer

As Mother’s Day approaches, many of us find ourselves thinking about how best to celebrate our moms.

Not everyone’s mother is still alive, however, and some of those individuals succumbed to breast cancer at a time when they should have otherwise had many years of life ahead. That thought reminds us to think about all of the women in our lives, roughly one in nine of whom will be diagnosed with the disease during their lifetime, according to Canadian Cancer Society statistics.

The latest equipment fundraising campaign undertaken by the Victoria Hospitals Foundation aims to secure a new mammography and stereotactic biopsy machine to be based at Victoria General Hospital. The technology allows medical professionals to detect cancers at an earlier stage, thus giving patients a higher chance of long-term survival from the disease.

While men can develop breast cancer, women are far more likely to receive such a diagnosis by comparison. And catching it in its earliest stages remains a person’s best chance to beat the disease.

Asking for and receiving a mammogram is relatively simple procedure for most women and should be encouraged by all of us.

But for those individuals without a regular physician, it’s often not as simple as that. As with men in the same situation who want or need to have a PSA test done to look for signs of prostate cancer, the existing rules in B.C. make it tough for women who rely on walk-in clinics to be proactive with their health.

In this province, people must have a regular doctor to whom labs can send the results, otherwise it’s up to the individual to find a loophole in the system, which often entails securing a commitment from a sympathetic clinic doctor.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, breast cancer death rates in women have been decreasing in every age group since the 1980s. This reduction reflects the impact of screening and improvements in treatment for breast cancer, they say.

Having a machine available to screen earlier in the process will hopefully keep those numbers dropping and allow more women to celebrate or be celebrated on Mother’s Day in future.

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