Quebec government to invest $22
million in PET
The Quebec government has announced that it will acquire 10 more
Positron Emission Technology (PET) scanners by 2007, bringing the total
number of such machines in the province to 14.
That would place Quebec at the forefront of PET scanning in Canada.
With its major investment in PET technology, the Quebec government aims
to dramatically boost the level of diagnostic care for cancer patients.
improve the investigation and follow-ups of patients, and that means
there will be a definite impact on waiting lists,” said Health Minister
Philippe Couillard (pictured at left).
Dr. Couillard, a neurosurgeon before entering politics, noted the
incidence of cancer is increasing by 3 percent each year in Quebec,
largely because of the aging of the population. The government,
therefore, must devote more resources to radiotherapy and medical
imaging, he added.
Under the plan, Quebec will spend more than $9 million in the next year
acquiring PET machines. It will also give hospitals more than $13
million a year to run the equipment.
Among the hospitals that will have operational PET machines next year
are the Jewish General, Maisonneuve-Rosemont and Ste. Justine. In 2007,
the government will install similar equipment in Chicoutimi, Gatineau,
Rimouski and Trois Rivieres.
Francois Lamoureux, president of the Association des medecins
specialistes en medecine nucleaire du Quebec, told the Montreal Gazette
newspaper that the government’s plan is “forward-thinking”.
“This will have an enormous impact,” he said, adding the machines will
also encourage more cancer research.
According to a report in the Gazette, in January 2005, the Quebec
government was embarrassed by revelations that Hotel Dieu was selling
PET scans to patients during off-hours. The government stopped the
hospital, but doctors there complained that more than 400 patients were
on wait lists of up to three months.
The wait list for a PET diagnosis now ranges from two to six weeks,
He said the expansion of PET machines in hospitals will put pressure on
a couple of private PET centres in Quebec.
Unlike other forms of diagnostic imaging such as X-rays, CT scans and
MRIs, which show the anatomical structure of body parts, PET reveals the
metabolic functioning of organs and tissues.
Radioactive isotopes are injected into the bodies of patients. These
radioactive tracers are absorbed at different rates by different parts
of the body, depending on whether they’re fast-growing – as with tumours
– or at a slower rate for damaged organs, such as hearts that have
suffered an infarct.
Radiologists trained in PET are able to detect and stage cancers with
great accuracy. The modality is also useful for cardiology and the
detection of other diseases.