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Cancer diagnosis moves closer to home for Midland patients

( Health Minister Tony Ryall says Hamilton Radiology’s new Positron Emission and Computed Tomography (PET-CT) Centre in Hamilton will give patients from New Plymouth to Hamilton to Gisborne more convenient service, closer to home.

“Until now, patients had to travel to Wellington, and sometimes even Australia for these scans,” says Mr Ryall.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) combined with Computed Tomography (CT) scans are a valuable tool in diagnosing and monitoring the progression of cancer.

PET scans create coloured pictures of chemical changes in the body tissues, especially more active cancer tumours, while CT scans show detailed pictures of the body where the changes are taking place.

The scans present a good picture of what is happening in the body and allow clinicians to plan and adjust a patient’s treatment accordingly – at earlier stages of the disease.

Mr Ryall says that ultimately, faster access to more reliable diagnostics means a better chance at successful treatment and return to health for people using this service.

“All of the PET scanners currently operating in New Zealand are in private ownership and the Government is providing an extra $1 million every year for DHBs to purchase more scans. This is supporting least 550 more patients each year.”

Mr Ryall also commented on the Quarter Three health targets published in national papers today.

“When we came to office, it was not unusual for patients to be waiting 15 weeks to begin radiation treatment. We’ve focused on improving cancer diagnosis and treatment,” Mr Ryall says.

“It is very good news that right now, 100% of patients are receiving their cancer radiation treatment within four weeks – the world gold standard.”

“Even in the aftermath of the Christchurch quake, 100% of South Island patients got their treatment within 6 weeks, and all but a handful got treatment within 4 weeks post the quake.”

Media Release on 26 May 2011 from Tony Ryall, Minister of Health



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