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Niagara North > Patient Resources > Cancer Screening and Preventative Care

Cancer Screening

Colorectal Cancer Screening


  • FIT (Fecal Immunochemical Test) is a FREE test you do at home that is used to screen for colorectal cancer in people at average risk
  • it is able to find blood in your stool that you can not see
  • it is a non-invasive, safe and effective test


  • everyone age 50-74 at average risk should be screened every 2 years
  • depending on what your risk and your family history is, screening options may look different for you. Talk to your healthcare provider about what screening options are right for you.


  • screening is the only way to find colorectal cancer early
  • colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in Ontario
  • almost 7 of 10 people diagnosed with colorectal cancer have no family history of the disease. This means it is important to get screened, even if you do not have a family history of the disease.


  • Talk to your healthcare provider today!


Cervical Cancer Screening

Canadian Cancer Society PAP information

PAP tests: When you need them and when you don’t


  • A Pap test looks for cells that have changed on the cervix. These may turn into cancer before you feel any symptoms. Cells are taken from the surface of the cervix and sent to a lab to be looked at under a microscope.
  • The PAP test is used to detect precancerous changes to the cervix and cervical cancer
  • Cervical cancer is almost entirely preventable with the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, regular testing with the Pap test, and appropriate and timely follow-up of abnormal results


  • Anyone with a cervix (women, transmasculine and non-binary people) who is or ever has been sexually active have a Pap test every 3 years starting at age 21. They are in the process of updating this recommendation. If you are under 25, talk to your family doctor or nurse practitioner about whether you should wait until age 25 before starting cervical screening with the Pap test. 
  • You can stop regular screening with Pap tests at the age of 70 if you have had 3 or more normal tests in the previous 10 years.
  • People who have had a hysterectomy should talk to their doctor or nurse practitioner to see if they need to continue cervical screening.

Depending on what your risk and your family history is, screening options may look different for you. Talk to your healthcare provider about what screening options are right for you.

Eligible people need to get cervical screening even if they:

  • feel healthy and have no symptoms
  • are no longer sexually active
  • have only had 1 sexual partner
  • are in a same-sex relationship
  • have been through menopause
  • have no family history of cervical cancer
  • have received the HPV vaccine


  • Screening tests help find cervical cancer before any symptoms develop. When cervical cancer is found and treated early, the chances of successful treatment are better. 
  • Cervical cancer starts in the cells of the cervix. A cancerous  tumour is a group of cancer cells that can grow into nearby tissue and destroy it. The tumour can also spread to other parts of the body. 
  • Changes to cells of the cervix can also cause precancerous conditions. This means that the abnormal cells are not yet cancer, but there is a chance that they may become cancer if they aren’t treated for a long time. 
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) causes cervical cancer. HPV infections are common and usually have no signs or symptoms
  • Experienced by up to 80 percent of sexually active men and women in their lifetime — but most of these infections cause no significant harm


  • Talk to your healthcare provider
  • Contact the Mobile Cancer Screening Coach at 1-855-338-3131 or 905-975-4467 or visit their website

For more information, visit Cancer Care Ontario

Breast Cancer Screening


  • Breast Cancer starts in the breast tissue. It occurs when abnormal cells in the breast tissue multiply and form a tumour that may spread
  • Most Cases are found in Women ages 50-74
  • In Ontario, breast cancer has one of the highest survival rates of all types of cancer


  • Screening mammograms are considered the international gold standard for detecting breast cancer early. Mammograms can usually find lumps 2 or 3 years before you or your primary care provider can feel them.
  • A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the breast that can find cancers, even when they are too small for you or your doctor to feel or see
  • Mammograms are not perfect tests. Some cancers may also develop in the time between tests. It’s important to talk to your doctor or nurse practitioner about the benefits and limitations of testing for breast cancer
  • Getting regular mammograms — and proper follow-up testing for abnormal results — are important because they can:

    • find cancer early when it may be smaller and easier to treat
    • lower the risk of dying from breast cancer in women ages 50 to 74


Breast cancer can happen at any age. In most cases, it occurs in women over the age of 50. All women are encouraged to speak to their doctor or nurse practitioner about getting tested for breast cancer

If you are 50 to 74 years old:

  • The Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) recommends a mammogram every two years. 
  • A doctor’s referral is not required, you can call the OBSP program through Niagara Health at 905-975-4467 or 1-855-338-3131. Visit OBSP locations for more information 
  • Women  in Hamilton/Niagara/Haldimand/Brant regions may be eligible to test for breast cancer in one of Cancer Care Ontario’s mobile screening coaches

If you are 30 to 69 years old and confirmed high risk:

  • The Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP)recommends getting a mammogram with an MRI or ultrasound every year.
  • High-risk status is based on a family or medical history of breast cancer and must be confirmed by a doctor or genetic counsellor. 

If you are over 74 years old:

  • Speak with your health care provider about getting tested for breast cancer
  • If you choose to get tested, you will need a referral for a mammogram from your doctor or nurse practitioner


  • Try to book your mammogram for a time when your breasts are not tender. Most women’s breasts are tender in the weeks before and after their period
  • Wear a two-piece outfit, you will be asked to remove your top for the test
  • On the day of the test, do not use:
    • Deodorants
    • antiperspirants
    • body lotions
    • talcum powder


  • If your test results are normal, you will be notified by mail from Cancer Care Ontario. (If you no longer want to receive letters from Cancer Care Ontario, call 1-866-662-9233). Your ordering doctor should also receive a copy 
  • If your test results are not normal, the OBSP location (where you received your mammogram) will notify your doctor or nurse practitioner and help schedule a timely follow-up appointment. Both the program location and your doctor or nurse practitioner can arrange more tests if needed
  • If you do not have a doctor or nurse practitioner, the OBSP will assign you a doctor who will follow up on your results.


  • maintain a healthy body weight
  • stay active
  • reduce alcohol intake
  • don’t smoke
  • discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor or nurse practitioner if you are on birth control or hormone replacement therapy

Visit Cancer Care Ontario for more information

Cancer Prevalence in Canada 2022 infographic summary

Bone Mineral Density Test (BMD)

BMD When you need it, when you don’t

Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass leading to fragile bones and increased risk of fractures. BMD testing measures bone loss due to osteoporosis and helps the patient and physician decide the risk of future fractures, determine the need for medical treatment and monitor the success of existing treatment.


For people over 65, BMD scans are only appropriate for those with moderate risk of fracture or when the results will change the patient’s care plan.

Younger women and men ages 50 to 69 should consider the test if they have risk factors for serious bone loss. Risk factors include:

  • Breaking a bone in a minor accident
  • Having rheumatoid arthritis
  • Having a parent who broke a hip
  • Smoking
  • Drinking heavily
  • Having a low body weight
  • Using corticosteroid drugs for three months or more
  • Having disorders associated with osteoporosis

You may need a follow-up bone-density test after several years, depending on the results of your first test.

How can you keep your bones strong?

The following steps can help you build bone:

Exercise. The best exercise for your bones is exercise that makes your bones carry weight. When you walk, your bones carry the weight of your whole body. You can also lift weights. Aim for at least 30 minutes of weight-bearing exercise a day.

Get enough calcium and vitamin D. They help keep your bones strong. Ask your doctor or health practitioner for more information.

  • Eat foods high in calcium, such as dairy products, leafy green vegetables, and canned sardines and salmon. You may need a calcium pill each day.
  • Consider taking vitamin D if you are a woman in menopause or you get little sun.

Avoid smoking and limit alcohol. Among other things, smoking and drinking alcohol can speed up bone loss.

  • Try a stop-smoking program. Ask your healthcare provider about a nicotine patch or other treatments.
  • Limit yourself to one drink a day for women, and two drinks a day for men, unless you have medical reasons for tighter limits.

Visit the Ministry of Health info page or speak with your doctor for more information.