VICTORIA, B.C. – People living on Vancouver Island will have improved cancer care with a new state-of-the-art PET/CT scanner suite at the BC Cancer - Victoria.

"Approximately half of British Columbians are expected to receive a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime, and timely, effective diagnostics are a critically important part of cancer care and treatment," said Premier John Horgan. "This means cancer patients on Vancouver Island will receive better, faster diagnostic services and care, closer to home."

Previously, Vancouver Island cancer patients needed to travel to the Lower Mainland to receive their cancer-related PET/CT scans. Once fully operational, the new PET/CT scanner is expected to provide over 2,200 scans per year.

"Last year, more than 1,900 Island residents had to travel to Vancouver to receive their scans," said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. "Opening this new PET/CT suite in Victoria means patients living in the region now have access to highly effective diagnostic imaging that will help to improve the cancer services people count on."

The total project cost is $6.5 million, with $5.3 million provided by the BC Cancer Foundation and $1.2 million provided by the Ministry of Health through the Provincial Health Services Authority. The BC Cancer Foundation raised funds for the new scanner with support from over 3,500 Vancouver Island donors, including $2 million dollars from Nanaimo resident Gordon Heys and $1 million from long-standing supporter Thrifty Foods.

Heys, whose donation represents the largest private gift ever donated in support of BC Cancer in Victoria, was inspired by the dedicated staff and quality of care he received as a patient. In recognition of his generous gift, the new suite at BC Cancer – Victoria will be named the Gordon Heys Family PET/CT Suite.

Building on the second year of the Province's Surgical and Diagnostic Imaging Strategy to improve services and reduce waits, this new PET/CT suite will increase capacity for diagnostic imaging on Vancouver Island. Since launching the strategy in March 2018, the Province has exceeded its targets, completing 233,369 MRI exams in the first year (2018-19), a 23% increase from the previous year. In the Vancouver Island Health Authority, 10,850 more MRIs were delivered, an increase of 28.2%.

A PET/CT scanner is a critical component of enhanced cancer care. It delivers precise images of abnormal or cancerous cells which can help physicians diagnose cancer at an early stage or evaluate the effectiveness of treatments by determining if a patient's cancer tumours have shrunk, spread, or returned.

This is the third publicly funded PET/CT scanner in the province, and the first to be located outside of the Lower Mainland.

Budget 2019-20 also allocated an additional $105 million over three years to further support cancer care services across the province.

-Ministry of Health

Quotes:

Tim Manning, chair, Provincial Health Services Authority –
"PHSA is committed to providing British Columbians with the best in health care no matter where they are in the province. The opening of this new PET/CT scanner in Victoria will make a profound difference for cancer patients and their families on the island. I'd like to thank our dedicated staff at BC Cancer along with the B.C. government, the BC Cancer Foundation and especially donors for making this a reality."

Gordon Heys, donor and cancer survivor –
"When you face cancer, you really don't expect to meet some of the most wonderful people imaginable! I couldn't have asked for better care than what I experienced at BC Cancer – Victoria. I was inspired by the staff, fellow patients and a former mentor, Trev Deeley, whose donations made a major impact on cancer research and care in our community. I hope that my donation will inspire others to give so we can carry on providing the best cancer care in the world right here on Vancouver Island."

Dr. Kim Nguyen Chi, vice president and chief medical officer, BC Cancer –
"We are very excited that patients will have access to this technology in Victoria, which helps to ensure that British Columbians continue to have some of the best cancer outcomes in the world. At BC Cancer, a priority for us is to reduce the burden of cancer treatment. Being able to offer patients from Vancouver Island the ability to receive a critical component of their cancer care closer to home is an important step in that direction."

Sarah Roth, president and chief executive officer, BC Cancer Foundation –
"Today marks a significant milestone for families facing cancer on Vancouver Island thanks to investment from our government and our incredible donor community. The commitment of BC Cancer Foundation donors to advance world class care is unparalleled and because of this, cancer patients on Vancouver Island now have the best diagnostic technology closer to home."

Learn More:

For more information about BC Cancer - Victoria, visit: www.bccancer.bc.ca/victoria

To learn more about the PET/CT program, visit: www.bccancer.bc.ca/petct

Media contacts:

Jen Holmwood Deputy Communications Director
Office of the Premier
250-818-4881

Ministry of Health Communications
250-952-1887 (media line)

Provincial Health Services Authority
Communications
778-867-7472 (media line)

Connect with the Province of B.C. at: news.gov.bc.ca/connect