Toronto's Dr. Eileen de Villa takes leave of absence for medical procedure

Dec 8 2021, 2:38 pm

Toronto’s top doctor, Dr. Eileen de Villa, is taking a brief leave of absence to undergo a medical procedure to remove pre-cancerous cells.

Dr. de Villa announced on Tuesday that she’d be briefly stepping back as Toronto’s medical officer of health after a routine mammogram yielded concerning results.

“This summer, in keeping with current recommendations, I had a routine screening mammogram. The mammogram, and the testing that followed thereafter, identified precancerous cells,” she said in a statement.

Dr. de Villa — and her scarves — quickly launched to Toronto fame in 2020 as she led the city’s COVID-19 response. She said in the statement that surgery, which she will undergo on Wednesday, would be required to remove the pre-cancerous cells.

In her absence, Deputy Medical Officer of Health Dr. Na-Koshie Lamptey will be Acting Medical Officer of Health. Dr. de Villa is expected to return to her role on December 20.

“My story is not unique,” she said. “Women throughout Toronto receive news like this every day.”

She is encouraging everyone to keep up with routine checkups in order to identify any early indicators of disease.

“My message to Torontonians is simply this: please do take the time to participate in screening programs, as recommended. I am grateful that I took the time to get screened as it has allowed me to have early detection and treatment,” Dr. de Villa said.

Toronto Mayor John Tory wished Dr. de Villa well and thanked her for stressing the importance of routine screening.

“Her professionalism and balance have been key to Toronto’s progress in fighting COVID-19. I also want to thank Dr. de Villa for stressing the importance of routine checkups and visits with your family doctor,” he said in a statement.

Brooke TaylorBrooke Taylor

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