When Leila Springer learned her screening mammogram was abnormal, she endured two nervous weeks before it was confirmed she had breast cancer. The former World Breast Cancer Foundation president underwent surgery three weeks later followed by more lengthy time lapses prior to chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
That was 14 years ago.
With last week’s launch of an ultra-modern breast cancer centre at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, patients will receive diagnostic tests in 24 hours and advanced clinical care.
“This is great news,” said Springer, who co-founded the Olive Branch of Hope organization to inspire and motivate cancer patients. “I know people who have to wait for more than two weeks for their diagnosis depending on what part of the city they are located. Hopefully, that will change.”
The Louise Temerty Breast Cancer Centre, which will provide tailored care to thousands of patients, is the largest in Canada and features expanded areas of specialized clinics, integrated imaging research and clinical trials.
“At Sunnybrook, we continue to make strides in our vision to invent the future of patient care,” said the hospital’s president and chief executive officer, Dr. Barry McLellan, at the launch. “This new facility, as a key part of our Odette Cancer Program, represents a national centre of excellence that makes the most of the expertise and leading practices of our teams. It provides women with the best in breast cancer care.”
In addition to providing next-day diagnosis for individuals with a mammogram abnormality, breast ultrasound or a clinical finding that’s highly suspicious of breast cancer, the 28,000-square foot facility offers screening and genetic counselling for individuals at high risk, including those with hereditary breast cancer and immediate breast reconstruction program.
The centre also provides direct access to breast imaging and diagnostic services for patients and women in the province’s breast screening and high risk screening programs.
“Women with breast cancer are not all the same,” said Dr. Eileen Rakovitch, the director of the Louise Temerty Breast Cancer Centre and head of the Odette Cancer Program’s Breast Cancer Care Team. “It affects women from their 20s to later in life. Each woman has different needs across the spectrum of breast care. Our work in the centre is focused on continuing to improve breast imaging for the earlier detection of breast cancer and to identify and bring innovations in research to also improve treatment while responding to individual needs as we provide rapid diagnosis, supportive care, research and breast clinical trials access as well as education.”
A private donor contributed $10 million to the centre while the Ontario Ministry of Research & Innovation has committed $1 million to Sunnybrook over the next five years for breast cancer research.
“When it comes to diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer, there is no time to lose,” said Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. “I know this new centre will make a world of difference to women and their families during very challenging times.”
Ontario’s Health and Long-Term Care Minister, Deb Matthews, said the new centre promises to deliver what women facing breast cancer need the most – hope.
“It is a wonderful example of specialized research, innovative treatments and compassionate care converging under one roof to offer patients the highest standards of care,” she said.
Breast cancer is the leading cause of death among middle-aged women.
An estimated 22,700 Canadians will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and about 5,100 will succumb to the disease. Nearly 14 women will die daily and one in nine is expected to develop the most common cancer among women during their lifetime.