$2.5m scanner good news for cancer patients

Wollongong Hospital's long-awaited PET scanner, delivered last Friday, will be operational in a matter of weeks.

The $2.5 million machine, which detects cancers and other life-threatening diseases faster and more accurately than traditional imaging, is still in the process of being installed and tested, but should be ready for use soon.

Once operating, patients from the Illawarra and South Coast will no longer need to drive to Sydney to access a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanner.

Director of nuclear medicine and the executive clinical director of the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District, Professor Barry Elison, said seeing the scanner almost ready to go after so many years of campaigning was "surreal".

"The quality of the CT scanner, which is part of the PET scanner, is the best quality and lowest dose, the dose for the patient is much lower," he said.

The high-tech scanner was yesterday unveiled to members of the Illawarra Cancer Carers and some of the MPs who worked together to secure it, including Member for Kiama Gareth Ward, Member for Wollongong Noreen Hay and Member for Heathcote Lee Evans.

"This PET scanner can make a huge difference in planning of cancer treatment for patients," Mr Ward said.

"When you see those partisan walls broken down, this is what can be achieved. People don't care about which side of politics delivers a PET scanner, so long as it's there. That's what's important."

In October 2012, following a campaign by the community that included a petition signed by 30,000 Illawarra residents, Mr Ward announced to NSW Parliament that the hospital would get the machine.

The scanner is operated by Healthcare Imaging Services.

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