New tool will support Islanders diagnosed with breast cancer
Breast cancer survivor Maureen Garrity says she wishes a new patient information tool had been available back when she received her diagnosis.
Health PEI has partnered with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, health care providers, and patient advisors on an information and navigation booklet called One Step at a Time: A Pathway Through Breast Cancer to further support Islanders and their families on their cancer journey.
“This new brochure would have helped me and my family when I was going through treatment,” said Garrity, who served as a patient advisor on the project. “It was a pleasure to be asked as a survivor for my input, and I hope that it will help ease anxiety for others who experience breast cancer.”
The booklet includes possible questions to ask health-care providers, things to consider when making decisions about treatment, an explanation of important terms and steps that may take place following diagnosis, and a list of health system and community resources.
“This important piece of work would not have been possible without the invaluable input from patient advisors and breast cancer survivors like Maureen,” said Health and Wellness Minister Robert Henderson. “By supporting new and innovative ideas, such as the patient navigator and our new One Step at a Time: A Pathway Through Breast Cancer booklet, we are helping to support patients on their cancer journey and improve their quality of life.”
Breast cancer is the most common cancer to affect Island women, and is recognized as one of the four leading types of cancer on Prince Edward Island. In 2015, 129 Island women were diagnosed with breast cancer.
The survival rate continues to improve, from 73 per cent in the late 1990s to 80 per cent today. The continual improvement in survival after a diagnosis of breast cancer is attributed to early detection through mammograms and advancements in treatments.
“A breast cancer journey can be quite overwhelming for an individual with the large amount of information to absorb, along with the important decisions to make during their journey,” said cancer patient navigator Wendy Holmes. “Resources like our new information and navigation booklet will increase understanding of the key points in the breast cancer journey and support informed decision-making for breast cancer patients and their families.”
As October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Island women aged 40 to 75 are also reminded to make time for a breast cancer screening, which can be done by appointment without a referral by calling 1-888-592-9888.
For information about breast cancer on Prince Edward Island, including prevention, screening, and for a copy of One Step at a Time: A Pathway Through Breast Cancer, visit www.healthpei.ca/breastscreening.
For general information about cancer care on Prince Edward Island, visit: www.healthpei.ca/cancercare.
The PEI Breast Screening Program screens approximately about 10,000 women each year between the ages of 40-74 years old for breast cancer.
Island women can schedule a breast screening appointment without a referral from their physician or nurse practitioner.
Women in the breast screening program are more likely to be diagnosed with a lower stage of breast cancer than women who are not in the program.
A screening mammogram is recommended for women aged 40 to 75 who:
- have never had breast cancer;
- do not have symptoms such as a breast lump, puckered skin, rash or nipple discharge;
- have not had a mammogram in the last 12 months;
- do not have breast implants; or
- have a parent or sibling with breast cancer.