British Columbia acquires PET/CT
VANCOUVER – Cancer patients in B.C. will benefit from a major advance in
cancer care and treatment with the opening of the province’s first
publicly funded PET/CT scanner.
This technology was made possible, in part, through a $5.1 million
emerging-technology investment in PET from the Government of B.C. and
the Provincial Health Services Authority.
Located at the BC Cancer Agency’s Vancouver Centre, the PET/CT scanner
will serve patients from across the province. During the initial
start-up phase, the BC Cancer Agency is using the technology for
patients with non-small cell lung cancer and lymphoma. As the clinical
and operational capacity grows, the BC Cancer Agency’s Provincial Tumour
Groups will review the types of eligible patients.
“B.C. has some of the best cancer outcomes in Canada, and this facility
will further enhance that success,” said health minister George Abbott.
“Congratulations to all those who have been involved in making the new
Centre of Excellence for Functional Cancer Imaging a reality for cancer
patients in British Columbia.”
The PET (positron emission tomography) system is a non-invasive,
whole-body imaging technique. When combined with computed tomography
(CT), it allows physicians to more accurately diagnose and manage
disease, particularly cancer. PET represents a remarkable advance in the
ability to track the progress of disease in the body.
The PET/CT scanner is a flagship for the new Centre of Excellence for
Functional Cancer Imaging, at the BC Cancer Agency, part of the
Provincial Health Services Authority. The centre was developed to
improve cancer diagnosis and treatment planning, to build new research
programs, to apply advances in imaging to cancer treatment, and to
collaborate in national and international programs.
“The establishment of the PET centre not only provides us with
state-of-the-art imaging for optimal cancer patient management, it
positions us to shape the evolving future of imaging at the genomic
level,” said Dr. Simon Sutcliffe, president, BC Cancer Agency. “This
imaging modality enables us to monitor the biology of cancer and its
response to therapy, as opposed to merely its size, position and
Both patients and healthcare professionals will benefit from the
availability of PET/CT. It gives patients a single, highly effective
test that shows the presence and progress of disease, and monitors how
well they are responding to treatment. For healthcare providers, PET/CT
is a tool that enhances their ability to diagnose disease and plan
treatment for the most appropriate and effective therapy.
“This is a commitment by the PHSA and the ministry to the continued
well-being of one of Canada’s most effective cancer care and control
programs,” said Lynda Cranston, president and CEO of the Provincial
Health Services Authority. “Strategic investments like this one help
ensure British Columbians will continue to receive excellent care.”
The opening of the new PET/CT Scanner Facility marks the completion of
the first phase in the development of the Centre of Excellence for
Functional Cancer Imaging.
The next steps are:
• Phase 2: Construction of a cyclotron facility and radiopharmaceutical
lab, used to manufacture radiopharmaceuticals for both clinical and
• Phase 3: Acquisition of a research PET/CT scanner, plus a small animal
PET scanner, to support the BC Cancer Agency’s research program and
contribute to its world-class achievements.
The ability to provide PET imaging for diagnostic and research purposes
is an important tool in the BC Cancer Agency’s Centre of Excellence for
Functional Cancer Imaging, bringing effective, cutting-edge technology
to the residents of B.C.
How PET works: Malignant cells are metabolically active, and use sugar
as an energy source. PET takes a special type of sugar, attaches a
radioactive component (18 F-Fluorodeoxyglucose, or 18 F-FDG) to it, and
injects it into the patient. The PET scanner can detect changes at the
cellular level by monitoring the amount of FDG absorbed by cells. This
allows physicians to tell where normal and abnormal metabolic activity
is happening in the body. Combining this information with CT, a
physician is able to locate the cells and determine if an abnormality is