Ministry of Health, Families Sector, Health Sector, Vancouver Coast & Mountains Region

B.C.'s cancer program doubles scanning capacity

/2011/08/bcs-cancer-program-doubles-scanning-capacity.html
Better cancer diagnosis and management
Families, Health Monday, August 29, 2011 11:45 AM


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VANCOUVER - A second PET/CT scanner installed at the BC Cancer Agency will double the number of scans that can be done on cancer patients or those who might have cancer - from 3,100 scans to 6,200 scans annually.

The new PET/CT scanner has been installed in the Centre of Excellence for Functional Cancer Imaging at the BC Cancer Agency. This second scanner comes less than a year after the Ministry of Health and BC Cancer Agency officially opened the new $15-million radiopharmaceutical facility in Vancouver that produces the isotopes needed for PET/CT scanning.

A positron emission tomography (PET) / computed tomography (CT) scanner is a whole-body imaging tool that allows physicians to more accurately diagnose and manage disease, particularly cancer.

Depending on the sensitivity of radioactive tracers, a PET/CT scan can tell a physician the location and size of the tumour as well as how well a patient is responding to treatment, which enables the treatment to be tailored accordingly.

The radiotracer used for PET/CT is a special type of sugar, combined with a safe radioactive component, and injected into a patient. It is absorbed by malignant or cancerous cells in the body, where it gives off energy that is detected by the PET/CT scanner. Malignant cells are metabolically active, while benign cells are not, and use sugar as an energy source. The increased activity allows physicians to identify where abnormal metabolic activity is occurring in the body. A corresponding computer produces special images offering details on both the structure and function of organs and tissues.

PET/CT scans are also valuable as a research tool to further advance cancer treatment and care. The BC Cancer Agency's research team uses the Centre of Excellence for Functional Cancer Imaging to investigate ways in which PET/CT scanning can be more targeted to specific types of cancer, making it an even more effective technology for diagnosing, staging and managing cancer.

The Province, through the Provincial Health Services Authority, is contributing $1.5 million in annual operational costs for the second scanner. The BC Cancer Foundation provided $3.2 million to purchase the second scanner, as well as upgrade the first.

Quick Facts:

  • In Sept. 2010, Ministry of Health and BC Cancer Agency officially opened a new $15-million cyclotron/radiopharmaceutical facility in Vancouver.
  • It is the first publicly funded facility in the province dedicated to the production of isotopes for health-care purposes, such as those used in PET/CT scanning.
  • The facility houses the province's first publicly funded PET/CT scanner, in operation since June 2005, as well as the second publicly and donor funded PET/CT scanner unveiled today.
  • The BC Cancer Foundation provided $3.2 million to purchase the second PET/CT scanner, as well as upgrade and replace the first unit.
  • The Ministry of Health, through the Provincial Health Services Authority, is providing $1.5 million annually to operate the second scanner.
  • The two scanners double the previous clinical output capacity from approximately 3,100 scans to 6,200 scans annually.
  • The BC Cancer Agency, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority, is committed to reducing the incidence of cancer, reducing the mortality from cancer, and improving the quality of life of those living with cancer.
  • The BC Cancer Foundation raises funds to support research and enhancements to patient care at the BC Cancer Agency.

Learn More:

BC Cancer Agency: www.bccancer.bc.ca
BC Cancer Foundation: www.bccancerfoundation.com

Media Contacts:

Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)

Lubna Ekramoddoullah
Senior Public Affairs Officer
Provincial Health Services Authority
604 675-7459 or 604 313-8443
lekramod@phsa.ca


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