- About TRIUMF
- For the Public
- For Students
- For Scientific Visitors
- For the Media
- Careers at TRIUMF
- TRIUMF House
Cancer is a growing challenge to Canadians and an increasing burden on healthcare budgets. A ground-breaking report released today suggests that access to, and utilization of, leading-edge medical-imaging technology for the diagnosis, staging, and monitoring of cancer treatment varies widely from province to province, putting cancer patients in some areas at a distinct disadvantage.
The technology, called Positron Emission Tomography, is often coupled with Computerized Tomography (CT) and is known as PET/CT imaging. PET imaging is already widely used and integral to cancer care in most developed nations, and increased utilization of this technology could provide more clinically-effective and cost-effective treatment for cancer patients in Canada. A nationally coordinated strategy to take up this technology and standardize its use could bring Canada back to the forefront of global cancer care.
"The Use of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) for Cancer Care Across Canada: Time for a National Strategy" was prepared for TRIUMF and AAPS, Inc. by independent medical-research consultant and well-known writer, Susan D. Martinuk. According to Martinuk, "PET is revolutionizing clinical cancer care in the United States and Europe, yet many Canadian doctors and policy officials continue to see PET as experimental and unproven technology. Cancer patients can suffer because of this reluctance." She reports that she was surprised at the variability among provinces in the utilization of, and access to, this key diagnostic technology.
One exception to the Canadian story is Quebec---where there is a network of 12 clinical PET scanners and PET imaging serves as the gateway to cancer treatment since patients are referred for a PET scan as soon as cancer is suspected. Some provinces have no PET scanners (e.g., Saskatchewan), while others have adequate equipment but restrict access (e.g., Ontario). In British Columbia, PET scanners are overwhelmed by patient volume.
Studies show that PET imaging is clinically effective; it can change the planned treatment regime of a patient in 36.5% – 50% of cases. Based on this, there is an implication that Quebec cancer patients will experience a very different standard of cancer management than their counte