The long-awaited Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanner, which is crucial when it comes to the treatment of cancer patients, will be brought down on 25 January to the Maharagama Apeksha Hospital.
The equipment, worth Rs. 200 million, has been purchased through public donation and to date has been present at only one private hospital in the country, which charges Rs. 150,000 per scan. Patients diagnosed with cancer require many PET scans hence it has been impossible for most to afford. Therefore Apeksha Hospital has decided to provide its services free of charge.
Under the recommendations of the Sri Lanka Atomic Energy Board, the scanner is to be installed in a separate building at the hospital and will be completed by March. A 90-member team of German radiologists will be sent to study the guidelines on operating the machine.
This equipment, which will greatly contribute to the treatment of cancer patients in the country, was successfully acquired through the contribution of 20 million people, the 150-member Fight Cancer Team and the Kadijah Foundation founded by M.S.H. Mohamed.
There are various types of cancers that have led to the deaths of many due to the unavailability of proper treatment and equipment in Sri Lanka. Leukemia, brain cancer, lymphoma, cancers of the eye and adnexa, bones, joints and articular cartilage of limbs, connective subcutaneous and other soft tissues, thyroid, ovary adrenal gland, bones joints and articular cartilage of others are the most commonly treated cancers.
Over the years the number of cancer patients has risen in great numbers. While 5,012 cases were reported in 1985, a total of 13,372 were reported in 2005. 16,888 were reported in 2009 and cases rose to 16,963 in 2010.
As the number of cancer cases has increased, the demand for quick and proper treatment has increased as well. The PET scanner plays a vital role during the period of treatment and is an essential diagnostic tool to reveal how the body’s tissue and organs function. As this procedure is able to identify metabolic activity within the body, it offers the potential to identify the disease in its earliest stages as well as to assess patients’ immediate response to therapeutic interventions.
The primary function of the PET scanner is to detect cancers and cancer staging, determine whether a cancer has spread throughout the body, find the place in the body where the cancer first started, make decisions on whether the cancer can be removed surgically, make decisions about treatment plans, assess the effectiveness of a treatment plan such as chemotherapy, show the difference between scar tissue and active cancer tissue, determine if a cancer has recurred after treatment and evaluate brain abnormalities such as tumors.
This hi-tech machine is a Siemens product of US origin and has the capacity of performing over 100 scans a month. As it will take over a month to install the equipment, the treatment will be given to patients from the beginning of March.