Relief for cancer patients as Kenya gets first PET CT scanner

Aga Khan hospital Photo/File
Aga Khan hospital Photo/File

Cancer patients will be able to get PET CT scan services in Kenya after the Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi acquired the first imaging test machine in East and Central Africa.

The ultra-modern Positron Emission Tomography (PET) CT scanner and Cyclotron is currently being installed at the hospital's oncology unit ahead of its launch in March 2018.

CEO Shawn Bolouki said the machine will revolutionise cancer care and treatment in the country.

"This will enable doctors to identify health threats at the cell-level thus giving them the best view and time of treatment for complex diseases such as cancer and heart diseases, brain and other central nervous system problems, thereby improving treatment outcomes." Bolouki said in a statement.

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The technology was acquired at an approximate cost Sh600 million.

A cyclotron is a type of compact particle accelerator used to produce small quantities of radioactive isotopes which is required for PET imaging.

Head of the oncology Asim Jamal said information generated from PET CT scans enable oncologists to make better treatment and follow up plans for cancer patients.

In certain cancer situations, the information is critical in making decisions regarding treatment options including surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

"This technologycan reveals the presence and stage of cancer, including whether and where the cancer has spread to, and help doctors decide on treatment," Jamal said.

He added: "PET/CT also gives us an indication of how well chemotherapy is working and can detect a recurring tumour sooner than any other diagnostic modalities."

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Data from Health ministry released early this year showed that some 116 patients suffering from non communicable diseases travelled to India between January and March this year in search of medical treatment.

Cancer patients made up 57.8 per cent, 16.8 per cent sought renal disease treatment, 7.8 per cent sought treatment for cardiovascular disease while skeletal disorders accounted for 3.4 per cent.