What’s in store for functional cancer imaging?

September 30, 2010

Found in PET/CT scan

We’ve been fortunate to have PET/CT imaging for patients with suspected or diagnosed cancer for the past five years. However, demand has been growing, not only because the population is aging and the incidence of cancer is increasing, but also because PET/CT scans are increasingly recognized as an essential part of routine cancer care.

To improve access to PET/CT scans in British Columbia, the BC Cancer Foundation is raising funds to purchase a second PET/CT scanner.

PET/CT imaging for patients

The Provincial Health Services Authority and the BC Cancer Agency have committed to provide the operational funding, and the Ministry of Health recently authorized us to start a request for proposal to purchase a new scanner.

I am excited about both the generosity of donors who are contributing and the response of the BC Cancer Agency and PHSA, who responded very quickly to improve service. This will help many patients avoid invasive biopsies, unnecessary surgeries and receive more accurate diagnoses.

In one clear example, patients treated for Hodgkin lymphoma (a cancer of the lymph nodes), we have reduced the use of radiation therapy by 80% for patients treated for Hodgkin lymphoma (a cancer of the lymph nodes) in British Columbia with the use of PET/CT imaging, while achieving the same outcomes.

Large prospective studies have shown that in lung cancer, PET/CT imaging reduced unnecessary surgeries by 50%.

These are the kinds of improvements we are looking for when evaluating new diagnostic imaging techniques.

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about functional cancer imaging over the last month. I have certainly appreciated the opportunity to tell you more about my program, and how much good work is being done with the funds that are so generously provided to us.