"Approximately half of British Columbians are expected to receive a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime, and timely, effective diagnostics are a critically important part of cancer care and treatment," said Premier John Horgan. "This means cancer patients on Vancouver Island will receive better, faster diagnostic services and care, closer to home."
Previously, Vancouver Island cancer patients needed to travel to the Lower Mainland to receive their cancer-related PET/CT scans. Once fully operational, the new PET/CT scanner is expected to provide over 2,200 scans per year.
"Last year, more than 1,900 Island residents had to travel to Vancouver to receive their scans," said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. "Opening this new PET/CT suite in Victoria means patients living in the region now have access to highly effective diagnostic imaging that will help to improve the cancer services people count on."
The total project cost is $6.5 million, with $5.3 million provided by the BC Cancer Foundation and $1.2 million provided by the Ministry of Health through the Provincial Health Services Authority. The BC Cancer Foundation raised funds for the new scanner with support from over 3,500 Vancouver Island donors, including $2 million dollars from Nanaimo resident Gordon Heys and $1 million from long-standing supporter Thrifty Foods.
Heys, whose donation represents the largest private gift ever donated in support of BC Cancer in Victoria, was inspired by the dedicated staff and quality of care he received as a patient. In recognition of his generous gift, the new suite at BC Cancer – Victoria will be named the Gordon Heys Family PET/CT Suite.
Building on the second year of the Province's Surgical and Diagnostic Imaging Strategy to improve services and reduce waits, this new PET/CT suite will increase capacity for diagnostic imaging on Vancouver Island. Since launching the strategy in March 2018, the Province has exceeded its targets, completing 233,369 MRI exams in the first year (2018-19), a 23% increase from the previous year. In the Vancouver Island Health Authority, 10,850 more MRIs were delivered, an increase of 28.2%.
A PET/CT scanner is a critical component of enhanced cancer care. It delivers precise images of abnormal or cancerous cells which can help physicians diagnose cancer at an early stage or evaluate the effectiveness of treatments by determining if a patient's cancer tumours have shrunk, spread, or returned.
This is the third publicly funded PET/CT scanner in the province, and the first to be located outside of the Lower Mainland.
Budget 2019-20 also allocated an additional $105 million over three years to further support cancer care services across the province.