THUNDER BAY — Residents of Northwestern Ontario will benefit from improved cancer care services, as the result of some major equipment acquisitions at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.
The hospital is getting a new state-of-the-art Positron Emission Tomography (PET/CT) CT scanner, and a third Linear Accelerator (LINAC).
Both devices are essential components of cancer diagnosis and treatment.
The $13.2 million cost will be covered by contributions from the Ontario government, Cancer Care Ontario and the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation.
PET/CT combines nuclear imaging and x-ray imaging. The PET imaging "lights up" cancer cells where they are present while the CT imaging allows doctors to see precisely where in the body the lit-up areas are situated.
At an announcement Monday, officials said the current PET/CT unit is aging and due for replacement.
The LINAC targets cancer cells with radiation, directing high-energy electrons to the affected area while sparing the normal tissue around it.
Dr. Nicole Laferriere, the hospital's chief of oncology and the medical director of Regional Cancer Care Northwest, said the additional unit is needed because radiation therapy treatment volumes have grown.
"We have seen firsthand the benefits to the patients of being able to offer quality cancer care closer to home. Now thanks to this funding and donations, we will be able to address any gap in radiation therapy treatment capacity in the region while keeping up with state-of-the-art technology," said hospital president and CEO Rhonda Crocker Ellacott.
The PET/CT scanner can also be used for illnesses such as heart disease, by giving surgeons a 3D image of the heart.
It's expected to be operational by August 2023, while the new LINAC will be in service by December 2023.
Thunder Bay-Atikokan MPP Kevin Holland represented the Ontario government at the announcement.
The Ministry of Health is providing approximately $9.3 million.
Katy Commisso, chair of governance of the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation board of directors, expressed gratitude to donors, saying that their contributions combined with proceeds from the Thunder Bay 50/50 enabled the foundation to provide $500,000 for the PET/CT acquisition.
TBRHSC is contributing a further $700,000, while Cancer Care Ontario is giving about $2.7 million.