fbpx PixelServer

B.C.’s cancer program doubles scanning capacity

August 29, 2011

Found in News

VANCOUVER, August 29, 2011 – 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.


Dr. Margaret MacDiarmid, Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors to the Minister of Health – “Having the best diagnostic tools available ensures patients in B.C. continue to have some of the best cancer outcomes in the country, and health professionals have the technological support needed to provide effective cancer treatment. As a physician and former cancer patient, I know the importance of an accurate diagnosis in battling this disease.”

Wynne Powell, board chair, Provincial Health Services Authority – “This is great news for our provincial cancer screening program. It demonstrates our ongoing commitment to British Columbians and their health and ensuring they have access to the best possible care we can provide.”

Dr. Don Wilson, medical director, Centre of Excellence for Functional Cancer Imaging, BC Cancer Agency – “The PET/CT approach enables us to diagnose and manage cancer more efficiently. The scans provide more information with a higher level of accuracy which leads to improved cancer treatment strategies for individual patients. This approach can help us avoid unnecessary surgeries and treatments. In limited stage lymphoma, for example, PET/CT has allowed us to avoid radiation treatment in 85 per cent of our patients while maintaining the same high rates of cure.”

Brendan Robinson, vice president, development, BC Cancer Foundation – “The opportunity to expand the Centre of Excellence for Functional Cancer Imaging, enhancing both patient and researcher access to life-saving PET/CT scanning technology, grew out of the BC Cancer Foundation's tremendous partnership with the BC Cancer Agency. It was a project we believed would generate a great deal of community interest, and we were right. Donors responded with hope, optimism and more than $3 million toward the purchase of a second PET/CT for British Columbians.”

Larissa Norton, lymphoma cancer patient – “I feel so fortunate that I was part of the PET/CT program. I did not get exposed to radiation therapy, which now reduces my risk of getting secondary cancers in the future.”

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

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

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