On July 11, 2013, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and Eastern Health provided an update on plans to launch a Molecular Imaging Program.
The program will feature the introduction of the positron emission tomography/computerized tomography (PET/CT) scanner that will provide the people of Newfoundland and Labrador with state-of-the-art technology to greatly improve the diagnosis and treatment of certain illnesses, such as cancer.
PET/CT imaging combines two tests into one and provides a unique representation of what is happening in the human body. The CT portion of the examination provides structural information about human anatomy, while the PET scanner provides functional information about how the patient’s organ systems work and function. While a PET/CT scanner is a vital diagnostic tool most commonly used to detect, assess and determine treatment for a large number of cancers, this technology is also used for the assessment and diagnosis of cardiac disease and some neurological disorders, including dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease and movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease.
In conjunction with the PET/CT scanner, Eastern Health will operate a medical cyclotron, a device used to create medical isotopes needed for PET/CT imaging, as well as some other diagnostic imaging procedures currently available through Eastern Health’s Nuclear Medicine Program. A medical isotope is a very small quantity of radioactive material used to diagnose and determine treatment for disease. The regulatory processes for operating a cyclotron are extensive and involve two principal federal regulatory agencies– Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CSNC) and Health Canada.
The Molecular Imaging Program will also provide Eastern Health and Memorial University with additional research and teaching opportunities. Furthermore, having a Molecular Imaging Program in the province will assist with recruitment efforts for physicians.
Eastern Health is anticipating that the Molecular Imaging Program will officially open in 2017. Eastern Health will continue to provide updates about the Molecular Imaging Program to the public throughout the various development stages of the project.
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