State-of-the-art breast cancer imaging centre coming to Kingston
Author of the article: Steph Crosier Publishing date: Aug 05, 2021
The site of the new Breast Imaging Kingston centre on John Marks Avenue in the east end of the city. PHOTO BY IAN MACALPINE /The Whig-Standard
People diagnosed with breast cancer in the Kingston area will soon have access to a state-of-the-art screening and imaging centre, opening in early 2022
Dr. Omar Islam, head of Kingston Health Sciences Centre’s department of diagnostic radiology, said Breast Imaging Kingston is a partnership between Kingston General Hospital and the Ontario Breast Screening Program and has been in the works for more than a decade.
“It’s a win for the whole region,” Islam said. “The centre, because of its uniqueness, will really put breast imaging and diagnosis that we provide here on the Canadian map.”
Located on John Marks Avenue, the multimillion-dollar project will be a single floor and roughly 8,000 square feet with room for expansion. Islam said it will be packed with the latest equipment, thanks to “showcase” agreements with vendors.
He explained that the agreement means the clinic gets the best equipment while allowing other potential customers of the vendors — including professionals, physicians, researchers, educators and administrators — to visit and test the machinery and the processes in which they’re used. The vendors would also be able to send their own staff to train on the equipment.
“A showcase site is really a hub of activity — a hub of intellectual and research activity,” Islam said. “We’re really proud that we’ll have that ability that will serve to attract people to Kingston. Researchers, physicians, radiologists, nurses, technologists, we all want the best for our patients and to work with the best equipment and work in a wonderful environment.
“I think this will be a model that people will want to copy.”
Meanwhile, those being treated at the clinic may have no idea what is happening behind the scenes. They just get the best care without having to go to multiple locations for treatment. Islam said they’ve been able to work with architects to ensure the centre is a welcoming, peaceful place for patients who are likely going through an extremely stressful and scary situation.
“We’re trying our best to make it not feel like a hospital setting, more of a comforting setting,” Islam said, adding later, “They’ll be seeing the same friendly faces each time in reception, in the waiting area — the technologists, nurses, doctors, they’ll all be under the same roof and you’ll have access to these other additional specialists at the same facility.”
The goal of the clinic is to be a one-stop shop for patients. Islam said the clinic will be able to do everything except MRI scans and surgeries, both of which are done at Kingston General Hospital.
“It’ll be a really holistic centre where a patient will come and that patient will have access to the latest and greatest in imaging equipment and all the various specialists and services all under one roof,” Islam said. “That really impacts patient care in a really positive way.”
According to the Rose of Hope Golf Tournament, University Hospitals Kingston Foundation website, the centre will include four mammography units with tomosynthesis, four ultrasound machines, one automatic breast ultrasound, a biopsy room with a prone table and a vacuum-assisted biopsy device, as well as a magseed marker for tumour localization and a contrast injector.
This year, the Rose of Hope Golf Tournament raised $270,000 for the equipment, the most the campaign has ever raised.
Dr. Islam said one of the main goals of the clinic is to reduce wait times. Right now, the wait time between a screening mammography to a first assessment is approximately three weeks.
“With the centre, we hope to decrease that to one week,” Islam said. “That is a significant decrease in wait time, especially for a woman who has a breast lump, is worried that it could be cancer, and they have to wait weeks to find out.”
From diagnosis to biopsy is usually another three weeks, Islam said. They also hope to reduce that wait to a week.
While many local staff members will transfer over to the new facility, Islam said additional health-care workers will likely be hired because of the new services that will be provided. He said the clinic will likely also draw expertise.
“It is going to attract a whole new set of health-care workers interested in breast imaging to Kingston and to our facility,” Islam said. “We would be looking for technologists, nurses, radiologists, students, researchers to come to this facility as we grow and expand over the years.”
Islam said he’s thankful the leadership at Kingston Health Sciences Centre and the Ontario Breast Screening Program recognized the centre’s potential.
“Leadership is important,” Islam said. “They recognized to take the step now, as we’re coming out of COVID, and go head first into this new model of breast care delivery and not look back.”
Despite any showcase agreement, equipment is not free and not paid for by the province. This is why the women at Cataraqui Golf and Country Club created the Rose of Hope Golf Tournament 23 years ago, and this year, despite public health restrictions, they raised more than they ever have: $270,000.
“It’s really remarkable because we couldn’t have the full field of golfers like we normally have,” Sherri McCullough, chair of the Rose of Hope campaign and vice-chair of Kingston Health Sciences Centre, explained, adding they couldn’t have their normal opening ceremonies, brunch, gala dinner or silent and live auctions.
“We had to reinvent ourselves and come up with a way to raise the funds that are so badly needed.”
While the golf tournament is one day, McCullough explained that the fundraising campaign runs all year. The campaign has raised more than $2.4 million for the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation. To learn more about the tournament, visit cataraqui.com/charitable-tournaments.
“We have a powerful need to give back, and all the funds stay in Kingston,” McCullough said. “Now with the new centre being built, it’s really a tangible thing. You know your hard work and of your donation. Now you can go see it in action. Everyone is very supportive.”
October 13 is metastatic breast cancer awareness day. This is when your days are cut short and shorter, depending on the gravity of it.
Breast cancer is known to hit younger and younger women in recent years, and breast cancer is worse in them. Recently, BCAK has started a support group for younger women, some are in their early 20s and our Kingston MPP Sophie Kiwala told us that her niece was diagnosed with breast cancer at 18! This is why early detection is even more important now, and it must start with self examination at 20. It is not difficult to do and it’s free.
Here is a video made by Libby- age 36 with a 2-year old daughter, Violet and stage 4 breast cancer. Thinking of it, your heart is ripped to shreds!
Here are Libby’s words: Breast cancer is the number 2 cancer killer in young women in Canada. Women under 40 years of age account for around 7% of diagnoses of breast cancer. We are diagnosed at later stages due to a lack of screening. Screening in Canada does not start until 50. I had never had a mammogram until I found out I had breast cancer. The Task Force for Preventive Healthcare actually advises doctors and patients against doing breast exams -THIS NEEDS TO CHANGE! Women under 50 are more likely to end up with metastatic breast cancer because they are diagnosed later and with more aggressive cancers!
1 in 3000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer within 3 years of a pregnancy. I know MANY women struggling to raise children while dealing with terminal illness and their own death. These women are incredible people and deserve more research and a chance to REALLY see their children grown up and get married.
It can happen to anyone, so please be aware of your body and advocate for yourself. Please donate for research for metastatic breast cancer, and do not buy ‘pink’ items unless you know where the money is going! Read more about my story here: https://www.metamorphosismbc.org/libby-story
Please consider sharing to raise awareness! Stage 4 needs more!
In this section there are articles on the correct way of breast self examination, the importance of breast density in diagnosis and the 2018 report of the government Task Force on Preventive Health Care. It consists of … psychologists, family doctors and other non-experts, that are the ones tasked to give guidance to family doctors on breast screening, and decided you should not get tested till you are 50! Sorry, but cancer doesn’t wait that long.
Here is a video with the story coming straight from the experts: