After a delay of almost three years,Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Science (SGPGIMS) has finally started the facility of PET (positron emission tomography) scan for cancer patients. It is the first such facility in the state.
The institute has also announced introduction of Gallium 68,a relatively rare radio isotope,for diagnosis of neuroendocrine tumours which are otherwise not detected by PET scan.
Explaining the importance of Gallium 68 PET scan,Dr Sanjay Gambhir,Head of the Department of Nuclear Medicine,said that while the usual PET scan uses fluorodeoxyglucose isotopes to trace tumour,some tumours like those of neuroendocrine do not take these isotopes. Hence,detecting such tumours through PET scan becomes difficult. However,these tumours do take up the Gallium 68 isotope,thereby getting detected by the PET scan. Gambhir said apart from AIIMS,New Delhi and PGI-Chandigarh,no other government centre has the facility for PET scan with Gallium 68 in the country.
We have started the facility earlier this week and have already done three patients with Gallium 68 at SGPGI while 15 others are on the waitlist, said Gambhir. The facility requires a separate synthesiser for Gallium 86,which cost SGPGI more than Rs 45 lakh,he said.
PET scans help in early detection of tumour as well as in planning the treatment of cancer along with follow-up tests which allow doctors to see the effect of treatment on tumour. Coupled with CT scan,these machines,costing around Rs 12 crore,help in giving a complete picture of tumour and are hence very effective in cancer treatment,said Gambhir.
Explaining the reason for delay in starting the PET scan facility,Gambhir said that being nuclear medicine,the procedure needs several levels of approval and clearance from Atomic Energy Regulatory Board before getting the final license for starting the facility. The proposal for starting the facility at the institute was sent by the department in 2010,he said.
At SGPGI,each PET scan is expected to cost around Rs 9,500 for the patient. Gambhir said the facility of PET scan started about a month ago and so far,around 150 patients have already been scanned while ten to twelve patients are getting their scans done each day. The entire procedure of scan takes about two hours. There is a waiting list of around two weeks for patients awaiting PET scan at SGPGI,he said.