The Gallium 68 scan, used with functional PET imaging, is a nuclear medicine scan that relies on the over-expression of somatostatin receptors to visualize tumours. NETs typically express several somatostatin receptor subtypes in a unique pattern based on tumour type, origin and grade of differentiation. Ga68 scans offer the advantages of improved image resolution and higher sensitivity.
The Ga68 scan is an important diagnostic for NETs because it:
- Offers high quality images that provide information that exceeds what is available from conventional imaging (111In-Octreotide, contrast enhanced CT).
- Can detect tumors as small as 4 millimeters.
- Has different roles depending on what the tumour is doing.
- May be used for diagnosis, staging and restaging, deciding best form of treatment and monitoring the effect of treatment.
- Identifies patients who are viable candidates for PRRT therapy.
The cost of scan is currently comparable to the octreotide scan and therefore adds no further burden on provincial funding agencies.
Ga68 is currently only available via clinical trial in Canada in two sites.
The first is at Centre hospitalier universitaire de Sherbrooke in Sherbrooke, Quebec. This is the only Canadian location that will accept patients for this scan from across Canada with funding approval from the home provincial cancer/health agency. If a patient and their physician feel there is a need for Ga68 an application for funding can be made to your provincial health agency. Please see Ga68 section on our website for more information/direction per province and for specific details on this clinical trial.
The second is as part of the Ontario PRRT Consortium trial (scan delivered at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) for all participating sites being PMH, Sunnybrook Health Sciences, Juravinski and London Health Sciences). The scan is only available to patients who are being treated under the Ontario PRRT Consortium clinical trial.
The lack of broader access to this superior diagnostic represents a tremendous gap for NET patients in every province with the exception of Quebec. CNETS Canada has been in contact with cancer and health agencies across Canada to push for more access for Canadian NET patients. For many, many months we have been expressing our dissatisfaction with the lack of timely action and while we saw a small gain with several provincial agencies funding access in Sherbrooke, Quebec, we remain dissatisfied with the overall progress. We encourage all patients and physicians who believe a Ga68 scan is required at this time to apply to their provincial agencies and push for approval/access.
CNETS Canada will continue to advocate for greater access to the scan for NET patients in partnership with physicians and patients. If you are a patient who has been denied access to a Ga68 scan please contact Jackie.firstname.lastname@example.org.