New Breast Imaging Kingston Centre to open in New Year

News / General
By Meaghan Quinn

State-of-the-art centre will put Kingston on the map for breast cancer imaging and procedures

Just mention the new Breast Imaging Kingston Centre and the excitement among the team is palpable.

Slated to begin opening early in the New Year, the new Breast Imaging Kingston Centre will be a cutting edge clinical facility off of Highway 15 in the east end of Kingston that will house all things breast cancer imaging and diagnosis care under one roof – mammography, breast ultrasound and breast procedures – making it a hub of services for people from the southeast region who previously have had to travel to multiple locations across Kingston to receive all of these services.

“This new centre has allowed us to purpose build a calming space for patients that will have state-of-the-art equipment and in an environment that will also allow us to reduce our wait times by offering better coordination of care,” says Karen Pearson, Director of Imaging Services at Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC). “We said at the beginning that if we were going to do this we wanted to create a centre that allows the highest level of breast imaging care in North America, and I think we’ve accomplished that.”

Currently, anyone who requires breast screening or follow-up breast care resulting from an abnormal screening or biopsy would go to one of three locations in Kingston, depending where they are in their care journey. With this new centre, all breast services that would need to be completed up to a breast MRI or surgery will be amalgamated under the roof of the new Breast Imaging Kingston Centre.

“A stimulus for this centre was to allow us to bring our wait times down which has been difficult as we were in different places, spread out across various sites and under different administrations, which did not allow us to be as efficient as we could be,” says Eric Sauerbrei, Radiologist and head of the Women’s Imaging Section of the Department of Radiology at KHSC. “It became pretty clear a while ago that we couldn’t make real change happen unless we were amalgamated physically in one space and functionally in one organization. Now, not only do we expect our wait times to decrease significantly with this new centre, we’ll increase our rate of cancer detection because the new technology will be that much more sensitive and accurate.”

In addition to the amalgamation of services making accessibility significantly easier for patients, an intentional focus was put on getting the best breast care technology in place. Some of this new technology includes an advanced imaging technique known as ‘tomosynthesis’ which can help detect breast cancer often before symptoms present as a result of its ability to look at multiple layers of the breast in 3-D imaging.

Another new piece of technology that will make the new Breast Imaging Kingston Centre one of the first in Canada to be able to offer, is known as the new Magseed technology.

For patients who require breast cancer surgery, traditionally a long needle or wire is inserted into the breast that helps the surgeon locate the tumour for removal at surgery. A complication of this approach is that the insertion of the needle and the surgery need to both be completed on the same day and, depending on where the surgery is taking place, can require travel between two hospital sites – the needle is inserted by the radiologists at the Hotel Dieu Hospital (HDH) site, and the surgery can take place at either the Kingston General Hospital (KGH) site or the HDH site, possibly requiring travel to a second location for surgery. Once inserted, the needle is cumbersome, awkward and uncomfortable for patients.

However, with the new Magseed technology the approach to breast cancer surgery for patients is completely transformed. Patients will be able to come to the new centre days, weeks, or even months before their scheduled surgery date to have a tiny rice sized magnetic seed inserted into the breast that will help accurately mark the site of a breast lesion and help with its removal in surgery This can be done through a minimally invasive approach that takes a matter of minutes, without the need for a wire and patients will not have to worry about an additional procedure or travelling to another site on the day of their procedure.

“From a personal perspective, having this new technology in place would have made my experience a lot less stressful,” says Patti Cox, a Patient Experience Advisor involved with this project who has also had a personal experience with breast cancer. “I remember on a snowy morning having to trek to the KGH site to be implanted with the tracer then having to scoot our way over to the HDH site for the surgery; it was more than one really needs to do in a single day. This new approach will mean patients can go into their surgery in a more relaxed and calm mood and not have the extra stress of additional travel or the pain of the needle.”

Along with the new technology that will help put breast imaging in Kingston on the map, the new centre is also expected to help advance breast cancer research and education. The new technology and processes in place will benefit from new industry partnerships who will use the Breast Imaging Kingston Centre as a training ground for the latest applications and new devices, as well attract researchers and collaborators throughout Canada as a result of the investments made at this site.

The vision of creating the new Breast Imaging Kingston Centre is one that has been in the works for many years. Throughout that time what has kept the team motivated to make this dream a reality are the patients and the desire to create a space that will make breast care more accessible, private and comfortable for patients in the southeast region.

“It gives me goose bumps and makes me emotional to think about how far we’ve come in this journey,” says Dr. Sauerbrei. “I’m excited for the patients experience and improved care. It took a lot of people to make this a reality and I’m just ecstatic that we’re at this point. It’s not a slam dunk that we’re going to move in and everything will be done, we’ll have to continuously be working through the list and that will be a challenge but an exciting one, and we’re up for it.”

The new Breast Imaging Kingston Centre is planned for a staged opening beginning January 2022 and is expected to see an average of 120 patients a day. It is an approximately 8,000 square foot building spread across one level with plenty of free parking and on a city bus route. It will be located at 820 John Marks Avenue. Funding for the new equipment was made possible through generous donors, including Homestead and Rose of Hope through the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation.