Albury cancer PET scanner unveiled

ANNIE Wray is one of the first patients to benefit from Albury hospital’s new PET scanner.

The Esmond, Bundalong, woman was diagnosed with a pancreatic tumour just three weeks ago and said being able to attend appointments close to home was vital.

Albury Wodonga Health’s new $5 million machine, officially unveiled yesterday, will allow her to do that.

“If I had to go to Melbourne and do that four-hour drive alone, I don’t think I could do it, I think I’d just give up,” she said, reclining on a hospital bed preparing for her treatment.

“I’ve had everything done locally so far, so this machine is going to make things a lot better for a lot of people.”

The diagnostic machine began operating just a week ago but has already completed more than 50 scans.

Albury Wodonga Health chief executive officer Stuart Spring said the PET/CT scanner was “a great step forward for cancer services” in the region.

“PET scanning has been available for over a decade, and that means a trip to Melbourne or Sydney, so I think that now it’s available locally will make a very big difference,” he said.

“It means people can stay near their families and avoid very significant costs and other inconveniences for people who are very unwell.”

Dr Spring said the hospital was already seeing people from Shepparton and Wagga, who might have previously made the trip to the state capitals.

“That’s what we were expecting and what a major regional health service has got to do,” he said.

Nuclear medicine physician Rick McLean said while CAT scans showed where lumps were, they couldn’t reveal if they were active cancers or not.

“That’s where PET scans are really useful,” he said.

“It provides information on how patients are responding to treatment ... and it’s non- invasive.

The scanner can help diagnose, manage and monitor most major cancers including lung cancer, brain tumours, ovarian and cervical cancer, bowel cancer, head and neck cancer, melanoma, lymphoma and sarcoma of the bone.

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