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Innovative scanner to pinpoint patients' exact needs

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A NEW state-of-the-art scanner, the first of its kind in Britain, is to be used to help treat Scottish cancer patients, it was revealed yesterday.

The £1.4 million machine will enable consultants at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary to gain an unprecedented insight into patients' health, leading to significant improvements in the detection of certain kinds of cancer.

Professor Peter Sharp, head of medical physics with NHS Grampian, said the new scanner would operate "like a window into the body."

"This latest machine combines a positron emission tomography (PET) imager with an X-ray CT scanner," he explained. "Thus the PET image will show how well the body is working and the X-ray CT machine will show what the inside of the body looks like.

"By combining the two types of image, we are able to see precisely where things might be going wrong."

Dr Les Samuel, the Macmillan consultant oncologist at NHS Grampian, said he was confident the new scanner would help save patients' lives across Scotland. He said: "It will be really helpful in determining whether surgery is appropriate for some cancer patients. It will spare some patients unnecessary surgery and in others it will confirm surgery is the right thing."

Dr Samuel explained: "PET provides images of the body's biochemistry, rather than its anatomy and can indicate where cancer is present. The three types for which the PET scanner is most commonly used are lung, colorectal and lymphoma. In lung and colorectal cancer, it helps determine whether surgery is appropriate, and with lymphomas it can indicate whether further chemo- or radiotherapy is required."

More than 3,000 patients a year are expected to benefit.

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