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Diagnostic imaging

First-of-its-kind mammo system in Ontario

TORONTO – North York General Hospital announced it is acquiring three new digital mammography machines, including two with advanced tomosynthesis technology, a 3D technique that was recently approved for use in Canada. The hospital becomes the first centre in Ontario to implement mammo systems using tomosynthesis.

“We are excited to add this technology to our diagnostic capabilities,” said Dr. Elizabeth LaMere, Chief and Medical Director of Medical Imaging. “In addition to the benefits of digital mammography, tomosynthesis is a technique that has the potential to improve detection of cancers and reduce false positive findings.”

The acquisition of the machines is being made possible by a $2 million gift from Charlotte and Lewis Steinberg (pictured above). The philanthropic donation will ensure that patients have access to the most advanced mammography technology available.

Tomosynthesis technology is the latest innovation in breast cancer screening and diagnosis, improving the chances for early detection and identifying breast cancer tumours as small as a few millimetres.

It is especially useful for tumour detection in younger patients and/or patients with dense breasts. The machines are state-of-the-art Hologic Selenia Dimensions systems.

Digital mammography with tomosynthesis complements standard mammograms and digital mammograms as an important tumour diagnostic tool. Research shows the potential benefits to patients include fewer unnecessary biopsies, fewer recalls and faster, more accurate diagnoses.

“This technology is an important step forward in helping to improve early detection of breast tumours, which in turn will help improve quality of care,” said Mr. Steinberg. “We are delighted to be able to support North York General Hospital’s breast cancer services in this way.”

With this $2 million gift securing the purchase of three digital mammography machines - two with tomosynthesis imaging technology and one with biopsy capability - the Steinbergs are now the largest individual philanthropic donors in North York General Hospital’s history. “In these turbulent economic times, the Steinbergs’ generosity inspires us all to embrace the health of our community,” said Charles E. Beall, Chair, North York General Hospital Foundation, Board of Governors.

Tomosynthesis is a cutting-edge technology that takes multiple angled low-dose images of the patient’s breast in an arc pattern, which are then reconstructed into a series of up to one hundred thin (one millimetre) high-resolution slices that can be displayed dynamically, creating a three-dimensional effect.

This approach eliminates tissue overlap and noise found in currently employed digital and traditional mammography.

“We are deeply grateful for the continued support and exceptional generosity of Charlotte and Lewis Steinberg,” said Bonnie Adamson, President and CEO, North York General Hospital. “Our staff are committed to providing the highest level of care to our patients and their families - this new technology will further enhance our ability to offer superior breast cancer screening and diagnosis.”

The three digital mammography machines, two with tomosynthesis capability, will be operational by fall 2009. This additional imaging technique will improve diagnosis and detection of breast cancer for all of North York General Hospital’s patients referred to the hospital for assessment, which, last year, totalled almost 9,000 people.

This includes patients referred by their family physician for routine screening, patients referred through the Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) at the hospital’s Branson site, as well as those referred for a diagnostic assessment, encompassing patients referred to the BMO Financial Group Breast Diagnostic Centre, which opened at the hospital’s General site in 1997.

This centre was one of Canada’s first centres for rapid assessment of breast patients, offering a multidisciplinary approach to diagnosis of breast cancer.

The Steinbergs have a long history with North York General Hospital, and have supported many important programs at the hospital, including the Charlotte and Lewis Steinberg Emergency Department, the Genetics program and providing funding for the breast services’ first sentinel node machines.

Thanks to the Steinbergs’ generosity, North York General Hospital has enhanced ability to purchase cutting-edge equipment and offer treatment options well ahead of other Ontario hospitals. In recognition of the Steinbergs’ gift, North York General Hospital’s Breast Services will be named Karen, Heather and Lynn Steinberg Breast Services.

About North York General Hospital
North York General Hospital, affiliated with the University of Toronto, is one of Canada’s leading community teaching hospitals. We offer our culturally diverse community a wide range of acute care, ambulatory and long-term care services across three sites. The hospital embraces health by providing innovative and compassionate care for the whole family at every stage of life. In September 2008, North York General Hospital was identified by Cancer Care Ontario as the first hospital in Ontario to meet all its targets for cancer surgery wait times.