Cancer patients in the Cairns region will not have to leave the city for diagnostic scans following the arrival this week of a $2.4 million PET-CT scanner.
Queensland Health Minister Cameron Dick visited Cairns Hospital in June to inspect the installation of the new machine and discuss its operation with clinicians and staff.
PET-CT scanners work by combining two scanning techniques – Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Computerised Tomography (CT) – to provide detailed and precise images of cancer cells in the body.
Mr Dick said he had been informed the service would be operating from August and after that time, Far Northern cancer patients would no longer need to travel for diagnostic scans.
“PET-CT scans are the most effective way for clinicians to track if a cancer is spreading, how it is responding to treatment and if any cancerous cells remain after treatment, such as chemotherapy,” he said. “This is a significant piece of medical equipment that will provide a huge boost to cancer patients in the Far North for years to come. This service will allow cancer patients from right across the Far North to access specialist cancer care close to their own homes, communities and loved ones.”
The PET-CT scanner arrived at Cairns Hospital this week and will be assembled over six days by four specialist technicians before undergoing a short, intensive commissioning process. Due to the size of the machine, final construction at the Block E Cairns Hospital site has had to wait until the PET-CT was delivered.
Member for Cairns Rob Pyne said Townsville had such a facility, and having one in Cairns meant cancer patients no longer had to leave the city. “Having cancer is a time of great stress at any time, but having to leave home for treatment only makes it worse,” he said. “People can stay in their home city with their families and support networks around them instead of having to go to Townsville for diagnostic scans.”
Hospital and Health Service board chair Bob Norman said the arrival of the machine had been an exciting event. “We are now within touching distance of delivering this vital service,” Mr Norman said. “This really is the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle for cancer services in the Far North.”
The total cost of the project is $4.4 million with the Queensland Department of Health contributing $3 million and the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service contributing almost $650,000. Mr Norman said the Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation contributed $700,000 towards the project with the Committee for Oncology Unit at Cairns Hospital (COUCH) contributing $100,000. “The support we received from both the Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation and COUCH was pivotal in getting this project off the ground and I can’t thank them enough for their generosity,” he said.
PHOTO: Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service chairman Bob Norman and Queensland Health Minister Cameron Dick with the PET-CT scanner.
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