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Meet the Team

Meet the Team: The Ruth Burnett Centre for Outpatient Oncology

 

An oncologist manages a patient’s care throughout the course of the disease, beginning at the time of diagnosis. The oncologist will explain the cancer diagnosis and stage, talk about all treatment options and the recommended choice, all while focusing on providing compassionate care. The oncologist often works together with other types of doctors (like the surgeon, radiologist or pathologist) to create a patient’s overall treatment plan that combines different types of treatments. For instance, a patient may need treatment with a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. This is called a multidisciplinary team.

Dr. Christine Brezden-Masley

Dr. Christine Brezden-Masley is a practicing Medical Oncologist and the Director of the Marvelle Koffler Breast Centre at Mount Sinai Hospital as well as the Medical Director of Cancer Program for Sinai Health in Toronto, Canada. She obtained her PhD in Medical Biophysics at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto and her Medical Degree from the University of Toronto. She is currently an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto and senior scientist for the same Clinical Research Group at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute for Sinai Health in Toronto, Canada.

Dr Brezden-Masley is the founder of the COMET (Community Oncologists of Metropolitan Toronto) Clinical Trials Consortium, a web-based virtual network promoting cancer clinical trials throughout the Toronto region. She treats both breast and gastrointestinal (colorectal and gastric cancers) malignancies, which are her major areas of research interest. Her main area of clinical research is cardiotoxicity from cancer therapy and she has been the Co-Chair of the Annual Canadian Cardio-Oncology Network meeting, a collaborative national meeting improving cardiac heath in patients with cancer and is currently the President of the Canadian Cardio-Oncology Network.

Dr. Ron Burkes

Dr. Ron Burkes is Professor of Medicine at The University of Toronto and staff medical oncologist at Mount Sinai Hospital/Princess Margaret Cancer Centre/University Health Network in Toronto. He was on the medical oncology training committee for the University of Toronto for 23 years and the program director for the medical oncology training program from 1996 to 2005 during which time he introduced the academic half day, the longitudinal clinic experience, the annual medical oncology research day and the staff medical oncology outstanding teaching awards. He was also the director of the Clinical Teaching Unit at the PMCC from 1999 to 2005 and established the teaching curriculum for the internal medicine residents rotating through the PMCC. He is now the Medical Oncology Mentorship Facilitator for the Division of Medical Oncology, Department of Medicine, University of Toronto.

He has won numerous teaching awards including Departmental and University wide awards on 18 occasions, the Anderson Award in Program Development and the Hasselback Teaching Award at PMCC. He has presented at many local, provincial, national and international meetings.

His research interests include lung and GI malignancies with a primary interest in lung, colorectal and gastric cancers. He has numerous publications including 122 peer reviewed, 157 non-peer reviewed and 2 book chapters.

Dr. Christine Elser

Dr. Christine Elser is an Assistant 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.

Dr Albiruni R Abdul Razak

Dr. Abdul Razak is an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto. Clinically, he is a Staff Medical Oncologist in Phase 1 Clinical Trials and Sarcoma at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and Sinai Healthcare Systems, Toronto. He also leads the Medical Oncology Sarcoma Program at both institutions.

Originally from Malaysia, he underwent medical and oncology training in Ireland, England as well as Canada. He was the recipient several international awards, to include the Young Investigator Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (2011), Merit Award from the Conquer Cancer Foundation (2011) as well as the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Award from the British Lung Foundation (2007). Nationally, Dr. Abdul Razak was also the inaugural recipient of the Sarcoma Cancer Foundation of Canada Fellowship (2013). Locally, his work was recognized by the McCullough and Till Paper of the Year Award (2017) and the Young Investigator Award for Division of Medical Oncology and Hematology, University of Toronto (2019).

Dr. Razak’s main interest is new drug development, especially in the field of sarcoma. He has authored several high impact publications such as Journal of Clinical Oncology, Cancer Discovery, Clinical Cancer Research and Cancer. He was also the author of the oncology chapter for Davidson’s Textbook of Medicine (23rd and 24th edition). He has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles.

Dr. Razak has trained several of the next generation of sarcoma oncologists from various parts of the world to include North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. These fellows since then has formed their own alumni and launched their own successful collaborations. Dr. Razak also has been integral in connecting and training the next generation of drug developers from Ireland and Malaysia within his role at the Drug Development Program at the Princess Margaret.

Dr. Jon Hunter

Dr. Jon Hunter is the psychiatrist who focuses on the psychosocial care of patients undergoing diagnosis and treatment for cancer. As the Head of the Consultation-Liaison Program in the Department of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai Hospital, he also teaches undergraduate and post-graduate students and conducts research. The research topics include: minimizing chemotherapy side-effects via pre-emptive relaxation training, psychological support for women in high-risk families and the possible interactions between early life experience and coping with illness. In the oncology program Dr. Hunter sees people for diagnosis and treatment of coping-related issues and distress in cancer, often in collaboration with social work, nursing and oncology colleagues.

An oncology nurse is a nurse that has extra training in the provision of chemotherapy. He or she will administer your chemotherapy and supportive medications, conduct health histories and help you manage any side effects from treatment.

Oncology social workers are specially trained to help support patients and their families through their cancer experiences. They help navigate practical supports such as finances and transportation, make referrals to community resources and offer emotional support and counselling.

Some types of genes greatly increase the risk of developing breast cancer. The genetic counsellor at the MKBC provides genetic counselling and genetic testing to people with significant family histories of breast cancer to see if they have one of these genes. If we find that a person is at greater risk of breast cancer we can offer him or her approaches to reduce the risk of developing the disease.

A dietitian can provide nutrition tips and strategies to patients having difficulty eating normally or who are losing weight as a result of their cancer or cancer treatments. Dietitians complete a full medical and nutritional history in order to provide nutrition education and recommendations tailored to patient’s individual needs.

Your treatment plan may include supportive care and/or cancer medications that are not funded by the Government or only partially covered by your private drug plan. A medication reimbursement specialist (MRS) can provide you with access to patient-support programs that can offer financial assistance, compassionate (free) drug or bridging drug supply while you wait for public or private coverage. The MRS also assists patients that do not have any drug coverage, providing information on the Trillium Drug Program and help with the application form. This support is available to help patients navigate the complex drug-support system that includes Government and private insurance and drug companies.

Oncology pharmacists verify and dispense your cancer related medications. The pharmacist will explain how your cancer medication works, its purpose and effects, the usual treatment schedule, how it is administered, what side effects to look out for and how to manage or prevent them. The pharmacist will also review your home medications and natural supplements, screen for drug interactions, and go over any dietary restrictions or medication precautions.

If you are First Nations, Inuit or Métis and screening for cancer or have cancer, our Indigenous Patient Navigator can help: answer your questions about what to expect with upcoming appointments or tests, introduce you to your health care providers, find more information about cancer and treatment, connect you with spiritual support, as well as support in the community and assist with applications for financial and transportation services.

You may ask your health care provider to make a referral or you can contact the Navigator directly at 416-864-6060 Ext 2422.

The clerical team is essential in keeping the clinic organized – from preparing of a patient’s first visit to booking of follow up appointments.

They also work closely with our volunteers to help make sure the clinic day runs smoothly and that patients receive that extra special care and attention.

Volunteers assist with a range of tasks in the clinic, including providing snacks during patient’s the treatment visit, assisting patients to report their symptoms on the Your Symptoms Matter tablets and replenishing our education materials on display.