The Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) at Bluewater Health has been providing comprehensive, organized breast screening services to women ages 50 to 74 since 1997 and was recently designated as a screening site for women at high risk for breast cancer. Women who are not within this age range, or who do not qualify for OBSP can still have a mammogram, but must get a requisition from their family doctor.

Women who have their mammograms at Bluewater Health receive services that are accredited by the Canadian Association of Radiologists.

Self-Referral Mammography


Eligibility Criteria

  • Any individual age 50-74 with breast tissue
  • No breast implants
  • No previous breast cancer

There are two types of mammography, which are done for different reasons:

Screening mammography is used to look for cancer in women who do not have any symptoms. Both breasts are examined during a screening mammogram. It can help find lumps or abnormal areas of breast tissue that may be too small to be felt by hand. Screening mammography monitors changes to the breast over time and can help find breast cancer at an early stage. It is not unusual to be called back from your screening mammogram for a diagnostic mammogram. According to Cancer Care Ontario (CCO):

  • For every 200 women screened in the Ontario Breast Screening Program, about 17 are referred for further tests and one will have breast cancer. 
  • Up to 94 per cent of abnormal screens in average risk women have a final diagnosis of being benign.

Diagnostic mammography is done to diagnose a breast problem. You may notice the problem and tell your doctor about it, or it may be found during a clinical breast examination or screening mammography. Diagnostic mammography takes longer than a screening mammography. More detailed images and views of the breast are taken from different angles, to look more closely at a specific area in the breast. It is also very common to have an ultrasound of the area as well. At Bluewater Health, we have a Breast Assessment Program that patients may be referred into with an irregular screening mammogram or certain breast problems.

Mammography is done in our Diagnostic Imaging department.

You will stand in front of the mammography machine, and your breast is placed on what is called a detector. There is a compression paddle which then comes down to apply pressure. This is controlled by the technologist.

The breast tissue is compressed to make the mammogram clearer so the tissues inside the breast can be seen. Flattening the breast also allows less radiation to be used. The technologist will take images of the breast from different angles.

If you have a lot of discomfort during the x-ray, tell the technologist who is doing the test. They may be able to adjust the compression to make it more comfortable.

A screening will take approximately 15 minutes. A diagnostic exam can take up to an hour and may also include an ultrasound of the breast.

OBSP patients will receive a letter in the mail from Cancer Care Ontario (CCO) with their results. This can take up to several weeks. If results are inconclusive, patients will receive a phone call from Mammography within two business days.

Screening mammogram patients (non-OBSP) will have their results sent to their primary care provider within seven - 10 days. Most Breast Assessment Program (BAP) patients will get a preliminary report during their appointment, unless a biopsy is required.

Do not wear deodorant or powder on the day of exam.


Cancer Care Ontario

Canadian Association of Radiologists Mammography Accreditation Program:

Choosing Wisely Canada

Canadian Association of Radiologists

Canadian Radiation Protection Association

Canadian Cancer Society


Diagnostic Imaging Department
Level 1, Norman Building
Bluewater Health, Sarnia
89 Norman Street, Sarnia, ON N7T 6S3

Mammography registration is done right in the Mammography department.

Hours & Contact

Monday to Friday, 8:00 am to 4:00 pm 
General Information Tel: 519-464-4400, Ext. 5269
To book an appointment:
Tel: 519-464-4400, Ext. 4515

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