(Image / BC Cancer)

Vancouver Island residents will soon have access to the island’s first ever PET/CT (Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography) scanner suite for cancer treatment in Victoria.

The state-of-the art $6.5 million facility is coming to the BC Cancer centre and will improve cancer care for patients by delivering precise images of abnormal or cancerous cells.

The images can then help physicians diagnose cancer at early stages and evaluate the effectiveness of treatments by seeing if a patient’s tumours have shrunk, spread, or returned.

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“Approximately half of British Columbians are expected to receive a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime, and timely, effective diagnostics are a critically important part of cancer care and treatment,” said Premier John Horgan in a release.

“This means cancer patients on Vancouver Island will receive better, faster diagnostic services and care, closer to home.”

Previously, Vancouver Island residents would have to travel to the mainland to receive cancer-related PET/CT scans. Now, once the suite is fully operational, an estimated 2,200 scans can be performed in Victoria per year instead.

“Last year, more than 1,900 Island residents had to travel to Vancouver to receive their scans,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health in a statement.

“Opening this new PET/CT suite in Victoria means patients living in the region now have access to highly effective diagnostic imaging that will help to improve the cancer services people count on.”

The $6.5 million facility is being funded by the BC Cancer Foundation, the province’s Ministry of Health, and over 3,500 Vancouver Island donors, including a $2 million donation from Nanaimo resident Gordon Heys and a $1 million donation from Thrifty Foods.

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Heys’ contribution is the largest private donation ever given to Victoria’s BC Cancer organization, and was inspired by the time and care he received while a patient of the illness.

“When you face cancer, you really don’t expect to meet some of the most wonderful people imaginable!” Heys said in a statement.

“I couldn’t have asked for better care than what I experienced at BC Cancer – Victoria. I was inspired by the staff, fellow patients and a former mentor, Trev Deeley, whose donations made a major impact on cancer research and care in our community. I hope that my donation will inspire others to give so we can carry on providing the best cancer care in the world right here on Vancouver Island.”

In recognition of his generous donation, Victoria’s new cancer facility will be named the Gordon Heys Family PET/CT Suite.

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