Give Cairns cancer patients a fair go
CAIRNS patients and doctors are frustrated Townsville will soon have two PET scanners to diagnose and treat cancer while this city is still begging for one machine.
A local campaign has been launched to gain a PET scanner for Cairns to put an end to the long-running practice of forcing patients to travel south at times of ill health to access the technology.
Earlville cancer patient Justin Collins illustrates why doctors say the medical technology is an acute need for Cairns and should be made a top healthcare priority.
Mr Collins was half way through months of gruelling chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma when his physician requested he travel to Townsville last month for a PET (positron emission tomography) scan to assess whether the treatment was working.
Aside from feeling too fatigued and nauseous to drive eight hours return in one day to be back in Cairns in time for his next chemotherapy appointment, his wife was due to give birth in eight days and he feared he would miss the delivery.
"The added stress of travelling to another city for treatment just added more and more stress to the situation," Mr Collins said.
Cancer patients in Cairns say it is an injustice that Townsville already has a PET scanner and the city is set to receive a second machine within months.
Public and private patients in Townsville have had access to a $2.5 million PET scanner since it was installed at Queensland X-Ray in January.
Townsville Hospital is on track to install a $3.35 million PET scanner in September, which has been funded with federal money requested by the Queensland Government.
"I'm disappointed that I can't get it in Cairns and frustrated that there's a second PET scanner going to Townsville," Mr Collins said.
Dr Peter Boyd, chairman of the Senior Medical Staff Association, is pushing for a PET scanner to be installed at Cairns Base Hospital.
"We are disturbed that they're putting in a second PET scanner in Townsville and none for Cairns," he said.
"This is another example of poor health planning, which disadvantages Cairns."
Dr John Evans, managing radiologist at Cairns Diagnostic Imaging, has also vocalised his support for the campaign to invest in a PET scanner for Cairns.
"The people who need PET services are at times of stress, discomfort and are being separated from their family and local support. I think this is sub-optimal care. It is unfair to Cairns cancer patients," he said.
Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said a strategy is being developed locally to gain a PET scanner for Cairns.
"We're quite confident and happy with the strategy that's being developed locally to deal with this question about the provision of those services in Cairns," the minister's spokesperson said.
Cairns and Hinterland Health Service District CEO Julie Hartley Jones said it was a priority for her to deliver the technology to the region.
"I'm very keen to put in a local service and I'm putting together a plan. I believe that we have got enough demand," she said.
NEW CAIRNS.COM.AU COMMENT POLICY
We welcome your comments on this story. Comments are submitted for possible publication on the condition that they may be edited. Comments submitted without a full name and suburb/location will not be considered for publication. Please read our full comment policy and publication guidelines.
Share this article
Stress: Justin Collins – with his wife Fiona Collins holding their son Jackson – is a cancer patient who was forced to travel to Townsville for PET scans while his wife was pregnant. Picture: MARC McCORMACK