Breast Cancer Screening Bonaire
In October of 2019, a pilot of the general screening for breast cancer screening will launch on Bonaire. This pilot serves to prepare for a general screening for breast cancer among the population. The screening program is designed for women between 50 and 75 years of age.
What, why and for whom?
What is breast cancer?
All types of cancer have 1 common characteristic: An uncontrolled cell division. Breast cancer is a type of cancer that manifests itself in and around the breast tissue.
What is a screening for breast cancer?
A screening program consists of free medical examinations aimed at detecting diseases at an early stage. This is done through a screening: a periodic examination over a longer period of time. During this screening for breast cancer, women between 50 and 75 years of age will be invited for an examination every two years. If you participate, we will take X-rays of your breasts. This allows us to detect if you have breast cancer, even at an early stage before you could notice anything yourself.
Why a screening for breast cancer?
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer and most common cause of death due to cancer among women. 1 in 8 women get breast cancer. It cannot be prevented, but breast cancer screening programs have proven that early detection increases the chances of survival. This screening for breast cancer aims to detect breast cancer at the earliest possible stage. This increases chances for successful treatment and survival.
Whom is the breast cancer screening for?
All women between 50 and 75 years of age are eligible and will receive an invitation to participate. Breast cancer is most common among women of this age group. Do you belong to this age group and are you insured with the Health Insurance Office (Zorgverzekeringskantoor – ZVK)? If yes, you will receive an invitation to participate. If you do not receive an invitation although you do belong to this age group and are currently not undergoing treatment for breast cancer, please contact the screening coordinator. The screening will be repeated every two years, until you turn 76.
You decide whether you want to participate
Breast Cancer Screening is voluntary. Participation is not mandatory. Do you prefer not to participate? You can indicate this after you receive the invitation.
Do you sense anything unusual? Don’t wait for the invitation!
The way this screening for breast cancer is designed, all women between 50 and 75 years of age will be invited within two years. After that you will receive a new invitation every two years. However: Do you have problems or do your breasts feel different? Never wait for the invitation! Visit your doctor (general practitioner or GP) immediately.
How does the screening for breast cancer work?
You will receive an invitation by mail. If you choose to participate, we will make an appointment for you at the Fundashon Mariadal hospital. You will have a mammogram taken at the hospital: This is an X-ray of the breast tissue. Radiologist in the Netherlands, specialized in breast cancer screening, will review the images. The results will be sent to your doctor (GP). You may always request the results from your doctor. In some cases, your doctor will contact you for an appointment. Please attend to this appointment as soon as possible.
The screening consists of 5 steps
1. The invitation
Please contact us when you receive this letter. We will ask you whether you would like to to participate. We will also discuss the screening and answer your questions. If you agree to participate, we will make an appointment for you at Fundashon Mariadal.
It may occur that you receive an invitation for the screening while you are already receiving treatment for breast cancer. This is because we are not aware of that, as we are not allowed to receive any medical information without your consent. When you call us after receiving the invitation, you can inform us about your situation.
2. Your appointment
The mammogram at Fundashon Mariadal takes about 20 minutes. Please bring the invitation letter and your ID (sedula) to your appointment. When you arrive, a staff member will check your information. We will ask some questions about your health and answer any questions you may have. You can take a seat in the waiting room.
Good to know
- All Breast Cancer Screening staff are women.
- Please inform the staff if you have any medical conditions.
- Wear comfortable top clothing.
- Do not use any cream, powder, lotion or zinc ointment on your upper body.
- Follow the staff’s instructions.
- In order to take the X-rays your breasts will be compressed between two plates; this may be uncomfortable.
3. Taking X-rays
When it is your turn, X-rays will be taken of your breasts. You will undress to the waist in a changing room. A staff member will explain the procedure to you. Do you have any scars on your breasts? Or are your breasts very sensitive? Please let the staff member know, so she can take this into account.
Two X-rays will be taken of each breast. Sometimes more images are required. For each image your breasts will be compressed between two plates for several seconds. This is necessary in order to obtain a good image with the lowest amount of radiation possible. Although the compression may be painful, it is not harmful to your breasts. Does the compression hurt too much? Please tell the staff member.
4. A review of the images
When all images have been taken, you can get dressed and return to the waiting room. The staff will check whether the images of the breasts are clear enough and technically in order. Is this not the case? Then it is possible that one or more images will have to be retaken. If everything is in order, you can leave.
The X-rays will be sent to two radiologists in the Netherlands whom are specialists in breast cancer screening. Each will review the images independently.
5. The results
The results will be sent to your doctor (GP) within two weeks. You may always request the results from your doctor. In some cases, your doctor will contact you for an appointment. Please attend to this appointment as soon as possible.
Which results are possible?
One of the following three results could appear:
– no abnormalities detected
– insufficient information
– an abnormality detected
1. No abnormalities detected
The X-rays did not show any signs of breast cancer. You may participate again in the screening program after two years. The examination does not guarantee certainty. There is a chance that breast cancer is present but remains undetected. Breast cancer can also develop between two screenings. Do you notice swelling, pain or irritation in your breasts? Visit your doctor (GP) immediately!
2. Insufficient information
The X-rays do not contain sufficient information for an adequate review. You will require further examination at the hospital. This could be an additional X-ray or an ultrasound, for instance. In most cases, there is nothing wrong.
3. An abnormality has been detected
The X-rays show an abnormality which could be breast cancer. You require further examination at the hospital. This could be an X-ray or an ultrasound. If required, a small tissue sample (biopsy) will be taken from your breast. This does not necessarily mean that you have breast cancer.
Contact with your doctor (GP)
You may require further examination. For example, when the X-rays of your breasts do not provide sufficient information. Or, when one of the images shows an abnormality. Your doctor (GP) will refer you to the hospital.
Your personal data and privacy
We receive your personal data via the Civil Registry (Burgerzaken). When you agree to participate in this screening for breast cancer, you give us permission to use your data and the results of the examination for the screening program and for any further examination at the hospital.
The data obtained through the screening is anonymous. We will also use the results of the screening to continue improving the screening program. In order to do this, we exchange data with research and healthcare institutions. In this process we respect the BES Personal Data Protection Act (Wet Bescherming Persoonsgegevens BES). If you do not want us to share your data, please let us know.
Who organises this screening for breast cancer?
The screening is a collaboration between the department of Public Health of the Public Entity Bonaire (openbaar lichaam Bonaire – OLB), Fundashon Mariadal (FM) and the Health Insurance Office (Zorgverzekeringskantoor – ZVK).