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Breast Cancer
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For physicians: Frequently asked questions

Note to physicians

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, time until diagnostic appointment post-biopsy can be expected to be approximately 7 days.

The breast rapid diagnostic unit (RDU) is a new unit at Sunnybrook, developed to reduce wait times in the diagnostic workup of breast cancer. The breast RDU serves primary care physicians by providing rapid assessment and tissue diagnosis for patients with a clinical or imaging abnormality that is highly suspicious for breast cancer.

Patients who meet eligibility criteria are immediately contacted by our breast RDU nurse navigator, who provides support and guidance to patients through this time.

Who is eligible for the breast RDU?

Any individual with an abnormality on a mammogram, breast ultrasound, or a clinical finding that is highly suspicious for malignancy may be referred to the breast RDU. (e.g. BIRADS 4 or 5 on mammogram, suspicious breast lump, clinical findings of inflammatory breast cancer, etc.)

What will my patient's RDU experience entail?

Most patients referred to the breast RDU will receive two appointments. The first appointment will include a nursing assessment, mammogram, ultrasound, possible core biopsy, and possible fine needle aspirate biopsy. Patients will return the next day to see a Sunnybrook breast physician to receive their diagnosis. The breast RDU nurse navigator and physician will ensure concordance between the imaging findings and final pathology.

How do I refer my patient to this program?

Please complete the breast RDU referral form and fax to the Odette Cancer Centre new patient booking office (fax: 416-480-6179).

What do I tell my patient?

Please be sure to inform your patient of the following:

  • Patients will be asked to collect previous breast imaging films, CDs and reports.
  • Once the referral has been received, the breast RDU nurse navigator will contact the patient to tell them where to deliver their imaging films, CDs and reports at Sunnybrook.
  • Once films, CDs and reports have been received, the nurse navigator will book the patient into the breast RDU and notify the patient and the referring physician's office.
  • If your patient is on any form of anti-coagulant therapy (ASA/Aspirin, Dalteparin/Fragmin, Heparin, Plavix, NSAIDs, Warfarin/Coumadin, Ibuprofen, etc.) please ask them to stop taking these drugs for 7 days prior to their first RDU appointment.

What if I prefer to deliver the diagnosis myself?

If you, as the referring physician, prefer to deliver the diagnosis and arrange appropriate management, please indicate this on the referral form. It will be your responsibility to ensure the patient is seen in follow-up and to ensure concordance between imaging findings and pathological diagnosis. Otherwise, all patients evaluated in the breast RDU will be given a follow up appointment with a breast physician the next day for appropriate management, and you will receive a letter from the breast physician summarizing all findings and management recommendations.

What if my patient is identified as being at high risk?

Patients who do not have breast cancer, but are felt to be at high risk of developing breast cancer (e.g. due to familial history) will be referred to the Odette Cancer Centre's high risk clinic for further assessment. The high risk clinic offers women genetic counseling and possible BRCA testing as well as advice regarding screening and breast cancer prevention strategies.

Who do I contact if I have more questions about Sunnybrook's breast RDU?

Please feel free to contact the Sunnybrook breast RDU nurse navigator at 416-480-6100 ext. 85047 during the hours of 7:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.