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'Game-changing' scanner for cancer patients opens at RVH

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Simcoe Muskoka's first scanner for cancer patients is officially in operation at the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH).

On Friday, RVH unveiled the Positron Emission Tomography - Computer Tomography (PET-CT) scanner, making it the only hospital from Sudbury to Newmarket equipped with one.

"That's a big geography to not have any coverage close to home for that, so having it in Barrie really covers the Simcoe Muskoka area to provide that for a large population that we have here, and we know our region is growing faster than the rest of the province," said Gail Hunt, RVH president and CEO.

Construction to create room for the new PET-CT scanner began two years ago in RVH's Medical Imaging department, while the hospital received delivery of the scanner itself in March of last year.

"PET-CT was always that missing piece, but now we have it here, so the access is much easier for physicians getting the scans. Our waitlists are shorter than they would be at other places," noted Dr. Cory Ozimok, RVH PET/CT clinical lead.

Only 16 of these scanners exist in Ontario across 10 different cities.

Equipping the Barrie hospital with the technology will save cancer patients "countless hours and travel miles."

RVH said roughly 600 patients travel outside Simcoe Muskoka annually to access advanced diagnostic imaging.

The hospital's regional cancer care centre opened in 2012, and RVH officials say it has since logged nearly one million patient visits.

They anticipate performing over 1,000 scans now that it is open.

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