“Not all nuclear matters are bad.” The Director of the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (PNRI-DOST), Dr. Alumanda Dela Rosa, issued this statement with respect to the nuclear radiation issues facing the country, during the executive management seminar for the establishment of a medical cyclotron or a positron emission tomoghraphy (PET) facility in the country held last 23 March 2011 at Crowne Plaza Galleria, Mandaluyong City.
Positron emission tomography (PET), also called as PET imaging or a PET scan, is a type of nuclear medicine imaging.
Nuclear medicine is a branch of medical imaging that uses small amounts of radioactive material to diagnose or treat a variety of diseases, including many types of cancers, heart diseases and certain other abnormalities within the body.
PET is a non-invasive imaging technique that shows metabolism or functions and pathology of the different organs and tissues of the body. It is a clinically-proven, cost-effective and safe method for imaging in almost all types of cancers, heart diseases and neurological disorders.
With the aid of PET images, physicians can plan how to best manage the disease, avoiding unnecessary diagnostic evaluations and therapeutic interventions resulting to improved clinical outcomes.
Currently, the Philippines has only one cyclotron facility available in St. Lukes Medical Center (SLMC). However, being an in-house technology of the hospital, the cyclotron facility only serves the clients of SLMC.
“With the increasing volume of procedures needed by major hospitals in Metro Manila, it is important for the Philippine government to make an initiative to establish a common service facility for this matter to meet the health care needs, not only for Metro Manila, but for the whole country,” said Dr. Teofilo OL. San Luis, Jr., Dean of the Asian School for Nuclear Medicine and consultant of PNRI in the establishment of the medical cyclotron project.
The executive management seminar for the establishment of medical cyclotron, organized by the PNRI and supported by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD), served as venue for information exchange among experts, hospital executives and service technology providers on the importance of PET service facility in addressing high priority health problems, sharing of experiences in planning and setting up of the technology, crafting strategies to overcome concerns and to formulate a proposal to be submitted to a relevant funding sources such as government agencies concern and other private sectors.
Dr. Shrikant V. Solav of SPECT Lab in India and Dr. Homer Macapinlac of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Chair of the Department of Medicine, University of Texas have presented their experiences in setting up PET Centers and in combating cancer through outstanding programs integrated with patient care, research and prevention, and education.
Participants of the seminar included executives from the AFP Medical Center, Asian Hospital and Medical Center, Cardinal Santos Medical Center, Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center, Makati Medical Center, Manila Doctors’ Hospital, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, University of the Philippines – Philippine General Hospital, and University of Santo Tomas Hospital. These participants came up with a projection of about 200 cases or PET imaging procedures needed per month which are usually referred to Hong Kong and Singapore due to unavailability of the service facility in the country.
At the end of the seminar, the IAEA gave its commitment to support the first stage of the PNRI project which includes the economic feasibility study and training of the nuclear medicine physicians, technologists and radiopharmacists that will handle and manage the facility in the country.