According to the Canadian Cancer Society, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. While women under the age of 40 make up a smaller portion of these diagnoses, their needs and experiences differ significantly compared to those who are diagnosed later in life.
In order to meet the unique medical, psychosocial, research, and educational needs of women under 40 with breast cancer, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre’s Odette Cancer Centre created the groundbreaking PYNK: Young Women with Breast Cancer program.
Thanks to the generous support of the Jesin Neuberger Charitable Foundation, the PYNK program is expanding to serve patients at Mount Sinai Hospital’s Marvelle Koffler Breast Centre and the Juravinski Cancer Centre at Hamilton Health Sciences.
“We are eager to bring this innovative program to our patients,” said Dr. Christine Brezden-Masley, Medical Director, Cancer Program at Sinai Health and Director of the Marvelle Koffler Breast Centre. “This program will empower our clinicians to provide the specialized care for these young women throughout their diagnosis, treatment, recovery and survivorship, and also allow our scientists to lead in the discovery of new treatments.”
Established in 2004, PYNK is the first program of its kind in Canada, providing young women with a breast cancer diagnosis with tailored care by connecting patients and their families with the appropriate specialists, support and resources.
“Women diagnosed with breast cancer at age 40 and younger have special age-related medical issues, such as fertility preservation and different psychosocial problems, including sexual dysfunction and the need for child care,” said Dr. Ellen Warner, a medical oncologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and the founder and director of PYNK.
While speaking at the program’s virtual launch event, she reflected that, “from the onset, our vision for this program has been that every single woman diagnosed with breast cancer at age 40 or younger should have the benefit of a program like PYNK. The launch of two new centres is an incredibly exciting step towards fulfilling that vision.”
PYNK offers patients support through group sessions and a virtual library of education materials. They can also access the latest research and clinical trials, while health care providers can access materials to assist in the care of young women with breast cancer