Nuclear medicine: a rescue from cancer
Closing the gap between Russia and the world leaders in the field of nuclear medicine will save a lot of lives, as over the past ten years the number of oncological patients in Russia has risen by 16%. One of the key reasons of this heavy death rate is late diagnostics of the disease at the third or fourth stage. Early diagnostics, therefore, is one of the key factors of effective cancer treatment, which is directly related to the prospects of extending of PET centers network and providing access to these PET-centers to as many Russians as possible. These issues were the topic of the round table ‘The Concept of PET-Centers Establishment and Prospects of PET diagnostics in Russia’ at 7ICI.
According to one of the participants, director of the R&D department of the Federal Medical and Biological Agency of the Russian Federation Dmitry Dubinkin, on commission of Rosatom State Corporation the Federal Medical and Biological Agency has developed a project of a typical PET center for further implementation. Today 31 PET centers are being constructed in Russia and 7 PET centers are already in operation. ‘Using PET will help increase survival of oncological patients twofold,’ Dmitry Dubinkin announced. The figures stated are still low. For comparison: in the US there are over 2000 PET centers all over the country. In Russia most PET centers are located in Moscow and St. Petersburg and, therefore, are hardly accessible for the majority of the population.
According to the World Health Organization, over 7.5 million people die of oncological diseases annually. According to the statistics of the Ministry of Health and Social Development of the Russian Federation, as of the beginning of 2009, 2.5 million patients, or 1.8% of the Russian population, were registered in Russian oncology centers. Over the past ten years the number of cancer patients has increased by 25% and it keeps growing by 1.5% annually. Over 480 thousand new oncological patients are diagnosed in Russia every year. According to the experts, in Russia the demand in radiation detection and radionuclide therapy is satisfied by no more than 1-3%, the demand in PET (positron emission tomography) scanning – by only 1-5%. Specialists believe that Russia needs at least 140 centers capable of providing diagnostics services. According to international standards, at least every multi-field hospital has to have such diagnostics units and there has to be at least one positron emission tomography per one million people.
Discussions at the conference also concerned the topic of developing private oncology centers. According to Yuri Pronin, representative of the Medilux Public Limited Company that is currently establishing a private PET center, the key problem in the development of private clinics is lack of human resources and a long payback period. Furthermore, Yuri Pronin said that the professional community is very conservative: ‘A lot of doctors are afraid of changes.’
In general, the participants of the discussions share the opinion that active state support is necessary to develop an accessible and affordable network of PET centers.