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PYNK: Program for Young Women with Breast Cancer

PYNK: Program for Young Women with Breast Cancer

The PYNK program, focused on the unique needs of young women with breast cancer, is now available at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Sinai Health is pleased to offer this program, created by Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, to women under 40 as an additional service provided by the Marvelle Koffler Breast Centre at Mount Sinai Hospital.

How does the PYNK program support younger women?

Coping with a breast cancer diagnosis is challenging at any age, and younger women often have unique concerns. These may include:

  • Dealing with body image issues
  • Accessing fertility counselling and support
  • Rapid genetic counselling and education
  • Understanding how the diagnosis will affect current relationships and new personal partnerships
  • Explaining the diagnosis and treatment to their children
  • Managing work and treatment at the same time
  • Finding the right resources, as they may find they have less support with this difficult news than their older peers

The PYNK program will provide young women with care that meets their specific needs, recognizing the social, emotional, practical and treatment-related differences that often arise for younger women with breast cancer. This team-based care may include planning and support around issues such as treatment-related infertility and early menopause.

How the PYNK program works

In conjunction with the treating oncologist, the PYNK program nurse navigator, social worker, and oncology nursing team will assess the needs of each individual patient and their family/support group. Patients will be connected with the appropriate specialists and resources, with the care team guiding them from their time of diagnosis through treatment and recovery.

Mount Sinai Hospital’s PYNK program health team

PYNK is led by both a medical and surgical oncologist along with a nurse navigator, social worker and a research assistant, with input from young breast cancer advisors.

Dr. Andrea Covelli

Dr. Andrea Covelli is a surgical oncologist in the Division of General Surgery, Mount Sinai Hospital and an Assistant Professor and Surgeon-Investigator at the University of Toronto. Dr. Covelli’s clinical focus is the surgical management of complex skin malignancies and breast disease with a special interest in rare breast malignancies, including breast sarcomas.

She received her Medical Degree from the University of Western Ontario, and obtained both her residency training in General Surgery and her General Surgical Oncology fellowship training at the University of Toronto. Dr. Covelli is also an alumna of the Surgeon-Scientist and Clinician Investigator Program having completed her PhD in Clinical Epidemiology at the Institute of Health Management, Policy and Evaluation at the University of Toronto. Her research interests include improving patient and cancer care outcomes and addressing health inequities in cancer care for under-represented patient populations.

Dr. Christine Elser

Dr. Christine Elser is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto with appointments as Staff Medical Oncologist at Mount Sinai Hospital and Princess Margaret Hospital. Her specialist areas are breast cancer and cancer of unknown primary. She is the head of the Familial Breast Cancer Clinic at the Marvelle Koffler Breast Centre and provides risk reduction counselling and follow-up care for women with a strong family history of breast cancer. She is investigator in many breast cancer trials and involved in research on familial breast cancer. She is involved in teaching undergraduate student and residents and serves as member of the Medical Oncology training committee.

Online support and education

There are a range of program and educational materials available for PYNK program patients. 

To learn more about the program and available resources, please contact:

Linda Muraca 
[email protected] 
416-586-4800 ext. 5190

Advancing our knowledge

Learning more about the needs of young women with breast cancer is a key component of the PYNK program. In addition to the opportunity to participate in clinical trials available to Sinai Health patients, women in the PYNK program are offered voluntary participation in clinical research studies we are conducting aimed at advancing our knowledge about how to best care for young women with breast cancer.