Leading Melbourne Doctor Rob Ware wants Fraser Coast cancer patients to fight for access to a PET scanner (pictured). Hervey Bay cancer patient Vince Failla would not have survived without a PET scan.
Leading Melbourne Doctor Rob Ware wants Fraser Coast cancer patients to fight for access to a PET scanner (pictured). Hervey Bay cancer patient Vince Failla would not have survived without a PET scan.

This PET could save your life

A HERVEY Bay cancer patient has teamed up with the man who saved his life to kick start a national campaign aimed at getting vital diagnosis technology into the region's hospitals.

Three years ago Vince Failla was told by local doctors to prepare to die after being diagnosed with kidney cancer as a result of a CT scan.

It was only when a friend put him in touch with the team at Melbourne's Peter MacCallum Institute that he was given a Position Emission Tomography scan.

The PET scan revealed Mr Failla in fact had two different forms of cancer – renal carcinoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma – which could be treated by the removal of his right kidney and chemotherapy.

Mr Failla is now in full remission but Doctor Rob Ware, the specialist who first saw Mr Failla at the institute, says the Dundowran dad would be dead by now had he accepted the original diagnosis.

He said yesterday he was “fed up” with the misinformation being fed to the Federal Government about the accuracy of PET scanning and said thousands of regional Australians, including those living on the Fraser Coast, were suffering as a result.

He said the Federal Government's recent decision not to offer PET scans to cancer patients unless they had been diagnosed as a result of a biopsy was “ludicrous”.

As a result Dr Ware has pleaded with anyone who has been through a situation like Mr Failla's to speak out and join the fight which he will take to Canberra in the coming months.

He said Mr Failla's case was a “perfect example” of how PET scanning could save lives and would be using it in his submissions.

“A lot of people who are sick and tired don't come out and tell their stories but that's exactly what we need people to do. “We have to keep chipping away at the government until we get their attention.”

While he acknowledged PET scanning was by no means perfect, Dr Ware said it was at least 15 per cent more accurate than CT scans.

He also said that although PET scanning did not treat cancer, it could drastically change the way a patient was treated. He said that if diagnosed based on a CT alone, cancer patients could potentially get hurt and go through unnecessary procedures.

He said the major problem with CT scanning was that once an abnormality was identified, “it's not very good” at determining whether the abnormality was caused by the cancer still being there or things like scar tissue as a result of treatment.

He worried that too often patients were forced to undergo further, unnecessary treatment.

“I've seen people told to have their legs cut off when it's not necessary. I hate to think of all those who have had inferior treatment that will never know.”



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