In all cases of cancer detection, the odds of successful treatment increase with early detection. In the case of women’s cancers this includes, in Ontario, yearly physical exams and testing, or at least it did. In November 2012, a 11.1 billion dollar deal with Ontario’s doctor’s to “modernize” physical exams, it was deemed that a full annual physical isn’t necessary in “healthy” adults. Well, you’re only healthy until you’re not, right? Apparently, tests and the frequency of these tests will now be based on your individual needs. This would be great if everyone was as proactive as they need to be when it comes to their own health care. I fear that it will now increase the incidence of advanced cancers perhaps undetectable to the patient themselves. Women’s issues have been so taboo for so many years, I worry women will put off mentioning them until their next scheduled full physical exam, which, remember, will only include the tests deemed necessary. What if it’s an issue that you mistake for something else? Which is something that I saw in my mom’s case. I think this new “modernized” approach to our health care leaves far too many things to chance. I think it leaves too many women vulnerable to unnecessary risk.
What do we do about it then? Well, now more than ever it’s important to talk about women’s cancers. Information is key. Women need to know the symptoms and feel empowered so that they are able to push forward in the best interests of their own health care. Talk to your parents, your kids, your siblings, your friends. Learn your family history and discover your risk factors. It’s not a time to rest on your laurels thinking that the doctor knows you best. They only know what you tell them, and now, are no longer required to do the tests that may discover the issues you may be having.
I should state that not all doctors think this is a good idea. An article on CBC news with Dr. Stephen Cudmore expresses his concern over the new guidelines. In it he comments that he’s found underlying health problems in otherwise healthy adults. I can only hope that more doctors feel this way.
So start talking and learning. Don’t let knowledge of women’s cancers remain left unsaid, and undetected.