TAMC unveils only local PET/CT scanner

8 years ago

‘Powerful’ cancer treatment tool treats first patients

IMAGE008 17931115Contributed photo
June 14 marked the first patient day on TAMC’s new PET/CT scanner. On hand to showcase this exciting new addition to the Presque Isle hospital’s imaging department were, from left: Randy Bacon, director of ancillary services; Sam Yu, lead nuclear medicine technician; and Nick Boucher, nuclear medicine technician.  


PRESQUE ISLE — TAMC officials announced the exciting news last December that the Presque Isle medical center was taking the next step in cancer care for northern Maine by committing $1.5 million to bring PET scan technology to the region. Last week, that long-awaited step became a reality when the first patients in Aroostook County received a PET/CT scan locally.

A PET (positron emission tomography) scan is a nuclear test that shows a person’s physiology, looking at the biological behavior of lesions or abnormalities. While a CT (computerized tomography) scan is an anatomical test, showing where in the body the tumor is, the PET scan is more of a functional test, showing how things are working.

The new PET/CT scanner at TAMC performs both of these tests in one patient sitting and merges the scans together for the best view possible.

While there are other uses for a PET scan, it is primarily used for tumor detection and staging, which is the evaluation of the effectiveness of treatment. PET/CT scans are used in some form or another in guiding therapy for common cancers, according to Dr. Arjun Sood, the lead medical oncologist at TAMC’s Aroostook Cancer Care.

“This is a powerful tool in the cancer treatment process,” said Sood. “PET/CT scans are incorporated in diagnosis, staging, prognosis determination and response assessment. Increasingly, they are incorporated in treatment planning for newer modalities of radiation therapy.”

Statistics have shown that approximately 300 Aroostook County patients have traveled annually to Bangor to have a PET scan done. Others who would benefit from this kind of test opt for a different imaging procedure that is less effective for their needs because they cannot make the trip, according Randy Bacon, director of ancillary services at TAMC.

“Having this technology locally not only provides convenience for patients, but opens up this higher level of care to those who could not access it before. This will mean earlier detection, more accurate detection and better continuity of treatment,” said Bacon. “We made a dramatic leap forward one year ago with the addition of new radiation therapy capabilities, but we were still lacking in the areas of cancer diagnosis and staging. The standard for those aspects of cancer care is a PET/CT scan. Starting today, we can offer that critical service to cancer patients in Aroostook County.”

When it is not being used for PET scans, TAMC will gain efficiencies and save operational expenses with the equipment’s multi-functional use. It can be used for stand-alone CT scans as well as for the planning of radiation therapy treatments, replacing the backup CT scanner that TAMC currently has.

Use of this new equipment, which is more efficient to operate than the one it is replacing, will mean operational savings for TAMC in areas such as monthly maintenance.

TAMC has been working toward the goal of bringing this technology to Aroostook County for over two years. Success in achieving this significant milestone can in part be attributed to TAMC’s affiliation in the Eastern Maine Healthcare System, according to Glenda Dwyer, interim president. She credits both EMHS and Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor for providing the support that helped make this technology possible for northern Maine.