Princess Margaret Hospital's One-Day Diagnostic Centre Expands

By Karen Bliss 2/17/12 |


Pictured: Emmanuelle Gattuso, a breast cancer survivor, for whom The Gattuso Rapid Diagnostic Centre is named
Toronto’s Princess Margaret Hospital was the first to create and establish a one-day breast cancer diagnosis program six years ago and in 2009 launched The Gattuso Rapid Diagnostic Centre. Now, thanks to a final donation it will expand its services.

The centre currently operates four days a week, and will increase to five by May. It will also renovate the breast imaging area, adding three new digital mammography machines with tomosynthesis, the latest in breast imaging technology.

In the past, between diagnostic tests, results and a treatment plan, wait time typically ranged from five to eight weeks for diagnosis.

“Now, patients referred by their family physician receive a physical exam, mammogram, ultrasound and tissue biopsy (if needed), and then receive the results,” reads the press release. “If the patient has a diagnosis of breast cancer, a treatment plan is devised and given to the patient and referral can then be made to breast surgeons, either at The Princess Margaret or closer to their homes.”

Other hospitals have implemented similar one-day centres including Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital.

The rapid diagnosis program was initiated in 2006 by Dr. David McCready, a surgical oncologist and head of the breast cancer program at The Princess Margaret Hospital.

Funding was provided by The Weekend To End Breast Cancer (since renamed The Shoppers Drug Mart Weekend To End Women’s Cancers) and was expanded through a substantial donation from philanthropists Emmanuelle Gattuso; a breast cancer survivor; her husband Allan Slaight; and his son, Gary Slaight.  In May 2009, The Gattuso Rapid Diagnostic Centre was realized when they made the lead donation of $12.5 million. They also pledged to match further donations dollar for dollar.

A sizeable donation was also received from the RBC Foundation as well as more than 4,500 donors.  The final $1.4 million was donated by Allan, Gary and wife Donna Slaight as a Christmas gift to Gattuso over the recent holidays.

Since its inception, 1,961 patients have been through The Gattuso Rapid Diagnostic Centre. Of those patients, 48 percent received a diagnosis of breast cancer, the Princess Margaret Hospital reports.

“Allan, Gary, Donna and I are so proud to have been able to help turn a brilliant idea into something that is helping change the lives of a great number of patients diagnosed with breast cancer,” Gattuso said in a press statement.  “There is nothing we would love more than to have rapid diagnosis become the standard of care for all cancers.”

The centre is now looking at rapid diagnostic programs for lung and pancreatic cancers at The Princess Margaret Hospital. 

“Our vision of transforming patient care is becoming a reality in the Princess Margaret Cancer Program at University Health Network,” said president and CEO Dr. Robert Bell. “What began as a small pilot study in our breast cancer program a few years ago has evolved into standard clinical practice for many women needing rapid diagnosis and treatment planning.

“We are proud of this model of care, which we are now beginning to implement in other types of cancer. It is our vision of the future of cancer care, and our goal is to be able to help every patient in this way within the next five years. This is what personalizing medicine is all about — timely diagnosis and tailoring specific treatments to individuals.”


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