Breast Health Centre

We have full-service Breast Health Centres at our Centenary and General hospitals that provide access to screening, assessment, diagnosis and treatment for all breast abnormalities. At the Birchmount hospital, screening and diagnostic mammography are available for your convenience. We strive to provide a warm and welcoming environment that respects the need for dignity and privacy.

Our breast health services are part of SHN’s state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging programs, as well as fully integrated with our hospital’s comprehensive cancer care services. We are here to provide you with care throughout every step of your breast health journey.

We accept patients who have been referred by their primary care physician, or who are referred through OBSP. All abnormalities are rapidly followed up with additional imaging and, if necessary, a biopsy. In some cases, consultation with a breast surgeon is arranged to determine a plan of care.

What We Offer

We are voluntarily accredited by the Canadian Association of Radiologists (CAR). This ensures that our patients are receiving the highest quality of care, as outlines by this national body. CAR evaluates the qualifications of our staff; the performance of our equipment; image quality, as well as our quality control and quality assurance programs.

Our services are affiliated with the Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP), an initiative led by Cancer Care Ontario. As an affiliate, we offer quick and easy bookings for mammograms. No physician referral is required for patients who are:

Average Risk OBSP

  • Between the ages of 50 and 74
  • have no new breast cancer symptoms
  • have no personal history of breast cancer
  • have no current breast implants
  • have not had a mastectomy
  • have not had a screening mammogram within the last 11 months

You can book your appointment yourself, or even walk in for a screening (if there is availability).

High Risk OBSP

The Ontario Breast Screening Program recommends that women ages 30 to 69 who meet the High Risk Ontario Breast Screening Program eligibility criteria get screened every year with both mammography and breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (or screening breast ultrasound if MRI is not medically appropriate).

We have advanced mammography machines that use digital direct radiography (DR), the most effective screening method for detecting breast cancer. This not only enables us to be more accurate, we also have faster turnaround times — so patients don’t have to wait as long to find out their results.

An OBSP system navigator is available to offer support and guidance, from screening to treatment. The system navigator provides education and counseling, while acting as a valuable link between the patient, system and other health care providers.

Our Services

A mammogram is a safe, low-dose X-ray exam to detect abnormalities in the breast tissue, often before the patient can feel them. The procedure usually lasts 15 minutes. There are two kinds of mammograms:

  1. A screening mammogram is used for asymptomatic women aged 40 and older. It consists of two views of each breast, and is uncomfortable but not painful.
  2. A diagnostic mammogram is used for women and men who have an existing symptom, such as a palpable mass, pain or nipple discharge. It consists of two views of each breast, as well as additional magnification or compression views and breast ultrasound. Usually this additional imaging can be accommodated on the same day.

If your mammogram results show an abnormality, you will be scheduled for an ultrasound or a recall mammogram to provide a more detailed view of the breast. If an abnormality is still seen after these diagnostic tests, our System Navigator will refer you to one of our breast surgeons for a consultation and core biopsy.

At SHN, we also provide assessments for patients who have had a screening mammogram at another facility, and are referred for a “work up” that may include compression views, magnification views and breast ultrasound.

Stereotactic breast biopsy / ultrasound breast biopsy may be recommended for patients who have had an abnormality diagnosed from screening and are referred by a surgeon.

Eligibility

Those eligible for mammography services include:

  • OBSP patients 50 to 69 years of age (the average risk group for breast cancer)
  • Women under 50 years of age for preventive breast health care
  • Women and men with breast concerns

Patient preparation

  • Bring all previous films done outside our facility.
  • Do not wear deodorant or talcum powder on the day of your appointment

Digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) is a technology that can help improve the radiologist’s ability to diagnose breast cancer. DBT is also known as 3D mammography because it uses a series of two-dimensional images to build a three-dimensional image of the breast. DBT is especially useful in examining dense breasts.

Ultrasound imaging of the breast uses sound waves to produce pictures of the internal structures of the breast. It is primarily used to help diagnose breast lumps or other abnormalities your doctor may have found during a physical exam, mammogram or breast MRI. Ultrasound is safe, non-invasive and does not use radiation.

Our radiologists can perform biopsies guided by mammography, ultrasound or MRI. These procedures can diagnose diseases of the breast, including breast cancer.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the breast uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to produce detailed pictures of the structures within the breast. It is primarily used as an additional tool to breast screening with mammography or ultrasound. It may be used to screen women at high risk for breast cancer, evaluate the extent of cancer following diagnosis, or further evaluate abnormalities seen on mammography. Breast MRI does not use ionizing radiation, and it is the best method for determining whether silicone breast implants have ruptured.

At Centenary, our team of genetic counselors can determine if you are at a higher risk for developing breast cancer, based on family history and other factors. Genetic testing and breast MRI screening can be available for high-risk patients.

If an abnormality is detected, our breast surgeons are here to guide you through the decision-making process for surgical treatment. SHN is home to a collaborative breast reconstruction program involving both plastic and breast surgeons. We are the only community hospital in Ontario to perform specialized microsurgery to reconstruct the breast using the patient’s own tissue. Traditional reconstruction methods are also available.

 

The oncology clinic at Centenary offers the highest quality of medical cancer treatments, which could include chemotherapy. The team in our clinic includes: two medical oncologists; certified oncological nurses; a nurse practitioner; pharmacists; social workers; and volunteers. We offer a seamless experience as our multidisciplinary team is housed within the clinic.

Learn more about chemotherapy at SHN.

At SHN, we also believe in ongoing support beyond treatment. This includes the Look Good, Feel Better program, which is dedicated to empowering women to manage the effects that cancer and its treatment can have on their appearance; and the Survive N’ Thrive program, which is designed to help patients move forward with their lives after their chemotherapy or radiation treatment has been completed.

Patient resources

Our Team

The Navigator is an integral member of the health care team with specialized training in breast health. She serves as a liaison to help patients and families navigate the health care system in a timely manner.

The System Navigator provides individualized teaching, information and supportive care during diagnosis and treatment. She works closely with all members of the Breast Health Centre to ensure patients receive high quality care. A dedicated telephone line is available for patients to call the Navigator with questions or concerns.

Our team of highly skilled mammography and ultrasound technologists use digital equipment to acquire detailed images and views of the breast for the radiologists to interpret. Technologists also assist the radiologists with image guided biopsies.

Our dedicated radiologists have direct access to digital images, which they can immediately interpret and report on, thus expediting the time to diagnosis and treatment. Radiologists also perform either stereotactic or ultrasound guided breast biopsies.

Our surgeons are specialists in breast health. Patients are referred to one of our surgeons for further assessment and treatment of benign conditions, as well as breast cancer.

Where to Find Us

Birchmount Hospital

Main level

Centenary Hospital

Margaret Birch Wing, 1st Floor

General Hospital

Tower Wing, 5th Floor

Contact Us

Tel: 416-431-8167
Fax: 416-431-8141