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Canada’s largest breast cancer centre opens at Sunnybrook

The country’s largest breast cancer centre opened in Toronto on Thursday, promising patients a diagnosis and treatment plan within 24 hours of assessment – a significant increase from the current wait time of up to six weeks.

“One out of every 10 women in Canada who has a breast cancer diagnosis will be treated right here,” Sunnybrook president and CEO Dr. Barry McLellan said at the opening of the Louise Temerty Breast Cancer Centre.

“For women around the world, the research that’s performed here and the breakthroughs that are made in this centre will serve to improve the care and detection of the disease, with the ultimate goal of one day, making this centre obsolete,” McLellan said.

The 28,000 square foot facility is located at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, near Bayview and Lawrence avenues.

Sunnybrook said the new hospital will target a more “diverse” population, including special programs for young women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

At the centre’s opening, Premier Kathleen Wynne praised the province’s “brain power,” pointing to Ontario’s innovation in digital mammography and other research breakthroughs. More will come now that the centre is open, she said.

Wynne also spoke briefly and emotionally about her personal connection to Sunnybrook’s breast cancer program, saying her wife was treated by doctors at the hospital.

“My partner Jane Rounthwaite is here with me this mooring. She doesn’t come to all our announcements but she was treated here for breast cancer and is doing very well and I am eternally grateful,” Wynne said.

“Thank you for being here, Jane.”

The centre is named after donor Louise Temerty, who, along with her husband Jim, gave $10 million to Sunnybrook.

“It’s not just the rapid assessment – that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” Jim Temerty, who founded Northland Power Inc., said at the launch.

“What is also important is the immediate reconstructive surgery…where the woman is anesthetized for the procedure for the removal of the tumour and when she awakens, the plastic surgery has already taken place,” he said.

Programs at the centre include:

  • Marion C. Soloway Breast Rapid Diagnostic Unit, which provides rapid assessment and next-day diagnosis for individuals with an abnormality on a mammogram, breast ultrasound or a clinical finding that is highly suspicious of breast cancer.
  • Preventive/Genetics/High Risk Clinic, which offers screening and genetic counseling for individuals at high risk including individuals with hereditary breast cancer.
  • Locally Advanced and Neoadjuvant Breast Cancer program, which focuses on tailoring innovative local and systemic treatment options for patients.
  • Immediate Breast Reconstruction program, which offers eligible patients undergoing a mastectomy or complex lumpectomy the option to be assessed for same-time cancer and reconstructive surgeries.
  • PYNK: Breast Cancer Program for Young Women is Canada’s only comprehensive program meeting the needs of young women with breast cancer.