RVH to enhance cancer diagnosis with new advanced PET-CT technology

The new scanner should be operational by summer 2023

News release – from Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre

Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) will soon install new, state-of-the art medical imaging technology to enable earlier detection of some cancers.

Doug Downey, MPP for Barre-Springwater-Oro-Medonte, along with Barrie-Innisfil MPP Andrea Khanjin, announced on Friday the Ontario government is investing more than $1 million, enabling RVH to construct space in the health centre’s Medical Imaging department to house a positron emission tomography – computer tomography (PET-CT) scanner. Ontario Health (Cancer Care Ontario) will fund the $2.7 million cost of the PET-CT, which is expected to be operational by the summer of 2023. 

“This investment and strong collaboration between the Ministry of Health, Ontario Health and RVH will ensure the most advanced diagnostic imaging is available to patients from throughout Simcoe Muskoka,” says Janice Skot, RVH President and CEO. “To have this technology closer to home will be a game-changer for patients. Some cancers can be detected earlier with more precision, allowing clinicians to begin treatment sooner.”

PET-CT uses a dual imaging system that combines important diagnostic functionality (PET) with the anatomical assessment of organs (CT). This very sensitive, advanced technology uses molecular imaging to detect certain cancers, such as lung, breast and colon. The PET-CT scan is interpreted by radiologists to describe to oncologists exactly where the cancer is located, as cancer cells absorb the small amount of radioactive compound injected into the patient. As RVH expands its program in the future, the PET-CT can also be used to assess other conditions, including heart disease.

“PET-CT is a painless, non-invasive form of molecular imaging that patients in our region have been waiting for. It means we can detect tumours earlier, confirm successful response to therapy, and alter treatment to help patients,” says RVH Chief of Medical Imaging, Dr. Drew Schemmer. “This technology will also enable RVH to advance its research initiatives. We are extremely excited to support this program with our local and regional partners.”

RVH anticipates performing more than 1,000 scans the first year the PET-CT is in operation. There are currently 13 PET-CT scanners in just seven Ontario cities. RVH will be the only hospital between Newmarket and Sudbury to offer this technology.

“RVH opened its regional cancer centre a decade ago, and while it has provided care closer to home for so many peole from across the region. approximately 600 patients a year still had to travel to Toronto to access a PET-CT scan,” explains Dr. Matt Follwell, RVH’s Chief of Oncology. “RVH will soon be able to offer the most advanced tools to diagnose cancer earlier and more accurately. It will allow for precise and personalized treatments for cancer patients.”

RVH’s regional cancer centre opened in 2012, as part of RVH’s expansion that doubled the size of the health centre.  Since then, the centre has logged nearly 900,000 patient visits, providing consultation, treatment and follow-up care closer to home for almost 40,000 individual cancer patients from throughout the region saving countless hours and travel miles.

In announcing the PET-CT, MPP Doug Downey noted, “Equipping RVH with this state-of-the-art technology is part of our dedication to supporting and advocating for our local community. This will have a tremendous impact on patient care here in Simcoe Muskoka. Earlier, more accurate detection of disease can make all the difference when it comes to treatment and outcomes. Patients will benefit from this advancement for years to come.”

MPP Andrea Khanjin added, RVH continues to provide high quality and cutting-edge healthcare to residents of Simcoe Muskoka. Bringing this PET-CT scanner to Barrie means that our family members, friends, co-workers and patients in our community will be provided with the incredible advantage of early cancer diagnosis, which results in early treatment and improved prognosis.”

The addition of the PET-CT is also made possible by a generous $500,000 donation from valued RVH donor, Barrie Welding and Machine, as well as support from Jane and Dr. Paul Voorheis, a long-time RVH radiologist, former Imaging Medical Director and interim Chief of Staff.

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