Little more than six weeks since Cairns Hospital’s PET-CT scanner began taking patients the service has expanded its operating hours.
The $4.4 million service has seen 44 patients since it began operating out of Block E, Cairns Hospital on September 15.
To keep up with demand, the Health Service has this week increased its days of operation to two days a week.
PET-CT team leader Janelle Linton said it had been a whirlwind beginning for the much-anticipated diagnostic service.
“The feedback that we have been getting from our first lot of patients has been overwhelmingly positive, the difference having this service locally available is making a huge difference in their lives,” Ms Linton said.
“It has been such a relief for our patients to be able to access these diagnostic scans locally with their families and support networks.”
Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick said the scanner had already demonstrated its significant value.
“Around 17 patients a month had to travel to Townsville or Brisbane for a PET-CT scan before this major piece of equipment came online, so in less than two months it has clearly already proven its worth for those people,” he said.
Cairns MP Rob Pyne said an extension of the scanner’s operating hours spelt a win for both current and future patients and their loved ones.
“An extension of the PET-CT scanner’s operating hours will allow even more local patients to benefit from receiving the medical services they need without having to leave their community,” he said.
“This service provides local patients with the full cycle of cancer care in Cairns and is a major asset to our hospital that will benefit the Far North community for generations to come.”
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.
Cairns local Wayne Crapper was one of the first patients to use the new PET-CT scanner to gauge the success of radiation in reducing the size of his cancer.
“In the past I’d driven to Townsville and crashed with some friends and I also had to fly to Brisbane. Your whole life is on hold,” Mr Crapper said.
“Having it here in Cairns just took all the pressure off. I was able to be seen and then head home - easy as that.”
Wayne said after four months of radiation the PET-CT scan results revealed he "was in the clear" and he has since gone back to work.
“It’s bloody great that the scanner is here but I really hope I don’t need another one for the rest of my life,” he laughed.
The total cost of the PET-CT service was $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.
Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Board Chair Carolyn Eagle 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,” she said.
Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation chairman Dr Ken Chapman said the PET-CT scanner would improve health outcomes for Far Northerners.
"Helping to make this addition to health services really is what the Foundation is all about - putting the pieces together for a healthier north,” Dr Chapman said.
COUCH chairman Charles Woodward said it was fantastic to see a major fund-raising push pay off for people of the Far North.
“We are extremely pleased to see results of fundraising efforts going toward such a worthwhile and beneficial project for the community,” he said.
Photo: Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation chairman Dr Ken Chapman chats with PET-CT scanner patient Wayne Crapper.
Back to all news