Ontario's Missed PET Opportunity

    Ontario government failing cancer patients

    TORONTO, Sept. 18 /CNW/ - Ontario's nuclear medicine specialists today
confirmed the statements made by the Ontario Citizens' Cancer Coalition about
the lack of access to Positron Emission Tomography (PET) in the province.
"From British Columbia to Nova Scotia, Canadians can get a PET scan but here
in Ontario we continue to deny cancer patients access to this vital diagnostic
tool," said Dr. Christopher O'Brien, President of the Ontario Association of
Nuclear Medicine and Chair of the Ontario Medical Association's Nuclear
Medicine Section.
    Recently the federal government approved the use of the
radiopharmaceutical used in PET scans for breast, colorectal and lung cancer
assessment, meaning that PET is safe for clinical use. Yet the Ontario
government continues to claim that PET is 'experimental' and to support
research programs that are unlikely to produce any valuable information.
"Instead of allowing access to PET the government insists on wasting time and
lives with fruitless research projects that are under-funded, under-recruited
and that will merely duplicate work already done elsewhere," Dr. O'Brien
    Lung, colorectal and breast cancer are together responsible for more than
12,000 deaths in Ontario each year. More than 24,000 Ontarians will be
diagnosed with one of these forms of cancer this year. Yet a vital diagnostic
tool that could improve treatment and potentially save lives is not available
to Ontario's cancer patients. "Ontarians are losing out compared to the rest
of Canada and the world," Dr. O'Brien commented, " they are being denied
access to a very powerful dignostic tool which has been shown to change
management in more than 25 per cent of patients coming for PET scans, reducing
futile surgeries and getting the patient to the most effective treatment
    PET uses a radiopharmaceutical to form a three dimensional image of body
tissue. Because areas of abnormal cell growth like cancer absorb more of the
radiopharmaceutical, they appear more prominently in the imaging. This allows
doctors to detect cancer very early and to plan interventions and treatment
more effectively.

    Ontario's nuclear medicine specialists call on the next government of
Ontario to:

    1.  immediately stop all PET research projects;
    2.  direct funding to clinical applications of PET for lung, colorectal
        and breast cancer assessment, as approved by Health Canada, and
    3.  ensure that Ontarians have the same access to PET as the rest of

For further information:

For further information: Dr. Christopher O'Brien, Ontario Association of
Nuclear Medicine, (519) 751-5544 EXT:2455 or obrch@bchsys.org

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