Gordon and Leslie Diamond Family $3 Million Gift Improves Breast Cancer Diagnostic Care in B.C. to Save Thousands of Women's Lives

The odds of detecting breast cancer early, in its most curable stages, when tumours are too small for women or their doctors to feel or see just got better in B.C. thanks to a $3 million donation from Vancouver philanthropists, the Gordon and Leslie Diamond family, to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, BC/Yukon Region (CBCF) in partnership with BC Women's Hospital + Health Centre Foundation (BC Women's Foundation).

The gift will establish the Sadie Diamond Breast Health Imaging Centre at BC Women's Hospital + Health Centre, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA), a first-of-its-kind flagship breast imaging and training centre in British Columbia named in honour of Gordon Diamond's mother who died from the disease. The Diamond family's gift includes the purchase of two state-of-the-art digital mammography machines with tomosynthesis, the most advanced breast screening and diagnostic technology on the market today.

Complementing the equipment purchase, the PHSA has contributed a further $1.1 million of operational funding for fellowships and project management to train staff on the new equipment and initiate and oversee renovations to accommodate the machines at BC Women's.

“In keeping with the Jewish faith, our family has embraced the value of tikkun olam (Hebrew for repairing the world) with our charitable gifts over the years to benefit every faith and ethnicity,” said Leslie Diamond, a breast cancer survivor. “Leaving a legacy by supporting public institutions and giving back to the community has always been important to us.”

Breast cancer continues to be the most common form of cancer diagnosed in women. In 2010, it is estimated 23,200 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer (2,800 in B.C.) and about 5,300 will die (640 in B.C.) from it.

“Saving women's lives means detecting breast cancer early,” said Linda Morris, CEO of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, BC/Yukon Region. “The Diamond family's gift not only supports our work in early detection, it is also the largest single gift our Foundation has ever received. This gift will provide more accurate screening and diagnosis and we know that finding smaller tumours earlier saves lives,” she said.

Experts believe the Diamond's transformative gift will significantly improve breast cancer diagnostic care in B.C. and help to establish diagnostic standards in the transition from film to digital mammography.

“Tomosynthesis takes digital mammography a gigantic step forward,” said Dr. Paula Gordon, medical director of the Breast Program at BC Women's Hospital + Health Centre and chair of the Early Detection working group, one of five arms of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, BC/Yukon Region's 2020 Task Force assembled to reduce the incidence of life-limiting impact of breast cancer by the year 2020.

“Tomosynthesis produces 3-dimensional images that give a more detailed picture of a women's breast tissue. Not only do better pictures mean potentially finding more cancers, but also fewer recalls from screening and fewer retakes for technical reasons. The images can be seen instantly on a computer screen while the patient is still in the room,” said Dr. Gordon.

“In addition to reducing the time it takes to confirm or deny if a woman has breast cancer, we believe the Sadie Diamond Centre will offer a best practices model that may help develop a series of standardized, breast health centres around the province that include a training centre of excellence,” said Dr. Jan Christilaw, President BC Women's Hospital + Health Centre. Additionally the Diamond family's gift will help ensure BC Women's Hospital + Health Centre is able to attract, train and retain breast imaging radiologists and mammogram technologists for today and the future.

“BC Women's Foundation is extremely grateful to the Gordon and Leslie Diamond Family for their generosity - it will make a difference to women from across B.C.,” said Laurie Clarke, CEO BC Women's Hospital + Health Centre Foundation. “We are pleased to partner with the CBCF BC/Yukon Region in utilizing the Diamond family's gift to establish the Sadie Diamond Breast Health Imaging Centre at BC Women's. Working together we can save lives.”

The BC/Yukon Region of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation was established in 1992 to make a difference in breast cancer research and breast health for the BC population. Every year CBCF, along with its donors, sponsors and partners, raises funds to support unique and innovative initiatives in prevention, early detection, treatment, research and emerging issues in the health care workforce. For more information on the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, BC/Yukon Region please visit www.cbcf.org/bcyukon.

BC Women's Hospital + Health Centre Foundation is dedicated to raising sufficient funds to enable BC Women's to function as the leader in women's health. Donor support enables the Foundation to support programs at BC Women's that reflect the healthcare needs of women and their families. For more information on the Foundation please visit www.bcwomensfoundation.org.

BC Women's Hospital + Health Centre, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority, provides services for pregnant women, newborns and women with specialized health needs from across the province. BC Women's is an academic health centre affiliated with the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University and the Women's Health Research Institute.