Health and Community Services
April 29, 2008

Cancer Detection and Treatment Enhanced: Province to Have Full Suite of Digital Mammography Units

As part of its ongoing commitment to enhance early cancer detection and treatment, the Williams Government is investing in new equipment and treatment therapies to reduce the impact of the disease on Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

"We know the devastating impact that cancer has had on so many individuals and families in our province and each year we bolster our investments in early detection and cancer treatment to help ensure the best possible health outcomes for those who face this devastating disease," said the Honourable Ross Wiseman, Minister of Health and Community Services. "This yearís budget investments build on the unprecedented measures we have made in cancer prevention and treatment and further enhance the technologies and therapies available when it comes to cancer diagnosis and care."

Through a $10.9 million investment, 12 new digital mammography units will be purchased for health facilities located in Carbonear, Burin, Clarenville, Corner Brook, Stephenville, St. Anthony, Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Labrador City, as well as for two sites of the Provincial Breast Screening Program in Corner Brook and St. Johnís. In addition to these new units, other digital units are already in place in St. Johnís, Gander and Grand Falls-Windsor. Digital mammography technology allows for images to be electronically filed and stored where they can be accessed in seconds. The mammogram can be enlarged and magnified, providing the best imaging as a result of the digital technology.

"I am especially pleased that every mammogram that will take place in this province will soon be done on digital equipment," said Minister Wiseman. "Our investment will provide the best imaging technology available for breast cancer screening. This province will have a full array of digital mammography units in health facilities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, with each and every unit resulting from our governmentís investments."

As well, planning will commence this year to acquire a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanner for the province. The acquisition of this equipment will significantly augment existing technologies for cancer care and will involve an investment of up to $10 million. The PET scanner is designed primarily to assist physicians in planning treatment for those with cancer diagnoses.

In addition to these significant investments, $1.1 million is allotted for two new prescription medications to be added to the Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program which will be available through special authorization Ė Nexavar and Sutent to treat kidney cancer. The Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program provides financial assistance in the purchase of prescription medications.

Budget 2008 will also see funding allocated for enhanced home care services that once annualized, will mean an investment of $2.2 million. This will allow for the expansion of enhanced home care services, part of which will allow an increased number of individuals to avail of chemotherapy at home, where medically appropriate.

Data management with respect to cancer screening programs for the province will be enhanced with a $500,000 investment, allowing for increased capability for the collection, analysis and management of information. This in addition to a $2.3 million investment announced by the Provincial Government in February for an array of measures to strengthen the health care system, including the enhancement of data management, resulting from key lessons that have emerged involving problems experienced with hormone receptor testing from 1997 to 2005.

The Provincial Government has invested significantly in cancer prevention and treatment, including an investment of $10 million over the past two years for two new radiation bunkers and treatment machines at the Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Centre, which will become operational in the coming weeks. Other initiatives have included the construction of new cancer centres in Grand Falls-Windsor and Gander, implementation of the cervical screening program province-wide and the expansion of the breast screening centre in St. Johnís. As well, in February 2008, the Williams Government made a contribution of $500,000 towards Daffodil Place, a project of the Canadian Cancer Society which will provide accommodations and services for those who must travel to St. Johnís for cancer treatment.

"Our government is committed to the fight against cancer," said Minister Wiseman. "The investments in Budget 2008 add to the diagnostic technologies and treatment therapies available to patients in this province and further strengthen the capabilities of our health care system in responding to this disease."

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Media contact:
Glenda Power
Director of Communications
Department of Health and Community Services
709-729-1377, 685-1741

2008 04 29                                              2:05 p.m.

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