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Long-awaited PET scanner finally arrives in Sri Lanka for Apeksha

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Wednesday, 24 January 2018 00:01

  • Fight Cancer Team targets making Maharagama Cancer Hospital best in South Asia by 2022
  • Scanner to be installed in a separate building to be completed within next two weeks
  • Treatment to be given to patients from mid-MarchHospital in need of MRI scanner and several other pieces of equipment

By Shannon Jayawardena

The long-awaited Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanner machine, which will help many cancer patients in the country, finally reached Sri Lanka yesterday, confirmed Fight Cancer Team, who were the primary contributor to the process. The machine will be cleared and ready to be transferred from the airport to the hospital within two to three days.

The group’s hard work has now been put to rest, as they raised over Rs. 250 million in under 100 days to purchase the machine. While PET machines are very costly, they are essential for early detection of cancers.

Fight Cancer Team Founder and Kadijah Foundation President M. S. H. Mohamed said: “After a lot of effort put into it, the PET scanner has finally arrived in Sri Lanka and we are truly happy, as it will benefit many people, especially those who cannot afford it.”

Under the recommendations of the Sri Lanka Atomic Energy Board, the scanner is to be installed in a separate building at Apeksha Cancer Hospital Maharagama, which will be completed within the next two weeks. “Our target is to make the Maharagama hospital the best in South Asia by 2022,” Mohamed added.

The PET scanner is used to observe the metabolic processes in the body by detecting pairs of gamma rays emitted indirectly by a positron-emitting radionuclide (tracer), introduced into the body in a biologically active molecule. Apart from cancer detection, PET scanners can also detect heart problems, brain disorders and problems related to the central nervous system.

As Apeksha Cancer Hospital is the only government hospital for cancer patients in Sri Lanka, a greatnumber of patients are admitted daily, but are not able to receive the right treatment or medication due to unavailability of adequate machines.

There are various types of cancers that have led to the deaths of many due to the unavailability of proper treatment and equipment in the country. Leukaemia, brain cancer, lymphoma, cancers of the eye and adnexa, bones, joints and articular cartilage of limbs, connective subcutaneous and other soft tissues, thyroid, ovary, and adrenal gland are the most commonly treated cancers.

Over the years the number of cancer patients has risen greatly in Sri Lanka. While 5,012 cases were reported in 1985, a total of 13,372 were reported in 2005. 16,888 were reported in 2009 and the number of cases rose to 16,963 in 2010.

This high-tech machine is a Siemens product of US origin, having the capacity to perform over 100 scans a month. However as it will take nearly a month to install the equipment, treatment is to be given to patients from mid-March, said Mohamed.

Mohamed also emphasised that the hospital is still need of several other pieces of equipment, as even the existing ones are rusted or not up to date. Apeksha Cancer Hospital’s CT scanner is now over 15 years old while MRI scanners, ultrasound machines, bronchoscopes and genetic laboratory equipment are also very much in need.

“As we have now provided the hospital with a PET scanner, we hope to supply them with the above items as well. This is our next mission. We hope that together with public and corporate support, we can achieve these things very soon and help save countless lives,” Mohamed said.


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