The Gold Standard of Cancer Treatment

Anyone who’s had a brush with cancer is probably well-aware of the PET scan fiasco in this country. To sum up, the technology is accepted as the gold standard for diagnosing cancer everywhere in the world but in Ontario. In Canada’s most populous province, and in much of the country, it can be
difficult to access the high-tech scanners. [Blame the cash-strapped health
care system].

Anyway, a ground-breaking study, published in The Journal of Nuclear
Medicine, helps explain how the machines can make a life or death
difference. A group of Australian and New Zealand doctors examined 191
patients who had colorectal cancer. In more than 50 per cent of cases,
doctors changed the treatment plan once they were given access to PET
scanners. [They initially formed a recovery plan based only on scans from
the lower tech CT machines]. When they were treating patients who had
already had some initial therapy which hadn’t removed all the tumour, this
statistic rose to 65 per cent.

“PET was able to identify those patients who had potential for long-term,
progression free survival and even potential cure,” said Andrew Scott,
director of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in Melbourne,
Australia. “Just as important, it identified those patients with aggressive
disease, enabling them to avoid unnecessary treatment, such as surgery.”

Still feel comfortable with Canadian oncologists relying on the more
primitive CT scanners?

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