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A Conversation
on Prevention

Women's Health, April 16th, 2013

Getting our mammogram on in the South Asian community

On March 28, the Canadian Cancer Society’s Sirf Dus initiative partnered with the BC Cancer Agency’s Screening Mammography Program to provide free mobile mammography services to 51 South Asian women.

We recently celebrated our 75th anniversary by combating barriers to regular breast cancer screening in the South Asian community, which has lower mammography screening rates compared to the general B.C. population. During our early years in the 1940s, the cancer survival rate was about 25 per cent. Today, the survival rate for breast cancer specifically is 88 per cent which is why regular screening and early detection are so important.

The mobile mammography was held at the Surrey-Delta Indo Canadian Senior Centre where ladies gather regularly to socialize. The comfort of being in a familiar setting helped to put ladies at ease as they mingled before and after their mammograms. As a thank you for getting screened, each lady was given a bunch of freshly cut daffodils.

By the time lunchtime rolled around, the room was packed full of women chatting, singing and posing for photos. It was a very special event for the Society to be part of especially because 41% of the ladies screened were first-timers!

The Society recommends that women who are 50–69 years of age should have screening mammography every two years. Women between the ages of 40 and 49 should discuss their risk of breast cancer, along with the benefits and risks of mammography, with their doctor. Women 70 years of age or older should talk to their doctor about a screening program that would be appropriate for them. The Sirf Dus project is kindly funded by the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

Sirf Dus translates to both “Only Ten” and “Just Tell” in Punjabi.

The initiative asks South Asian women to:

• Take 10 minutes to talk about the importance of the mammography exam and early detection;

• Take 10 minutes to go for mammography screening; and

• Tell 10 friends about the importance of mammography screening.