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The Peter Gilgan Centre for Women’s Cancers: Giving every woman every chance

December 17, 2018

By Jennifer Lee

This year, the Peter Gilgan Centre for Women’s Cancers at Women’s College Hospital, in partnership with the Canadian Cancer Society, expanded its reach to make sure that every woman has every chance to access the highest standard of care in prevention, diagnosis, treatment and survivorship of cancer.

To build this platform change, new partnerships were made with other healthcare organizations, including the eastern Canadian BETTER Prevention Practitioner Training Institute, which opened its doors at Women’s College Hospital in the fall to improve prevention and screening of cancer and chronic disease. The initiative has been shown to improve screening as well as healthy behaviours in patients by over 30 per cent through things like personalized prevention plans and support for making choices that can reduce their chances of getting cancer and heart disease.

Working with Women’s College Hospital’s department of surgery and the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, the team also improved access to breast cancer screening for Indigenous women – an initiative they hope to continue in 2019. Women from this patient population are often are not comfortable attending screening programs and tend to present later with breast cancer symptoms – an issue that the team is directly targeting.

In October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Centre also made the BRCA1 & BRCA2 genetic mutation spit kit available at a reduced price through the Screen Project. By collaborating with CCS earlier in the year to feature the project in their national newsletter sent to 500,000 subscribers, the team increased awareness that this testing is available to those who may not be eligible through provincial programs. Identifying women with BRCA genes, also provides an opportunity to prevent ovarian cancer.

Next year will see greater expansion of integrated clinical programs that offer individualized and integrated approaches to prevention, screening, treatment and survivorship for women’s cancers. Dr. Ruth Heisey, medical director of the Peter Gilgan Centre for Women’s Cancers, says “Our combined focus on innovation, education, empowerment and research will allow us to take the world-class care we have here at Women’s College Hospital national.”

The next stage will see more strategic partnerships struck up across the system, alongside embracing virtual tools to leverage the world-class expertise at the hospital so that more women will have access to the care they need, when they need it most.

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