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Extra money for high-tech scans for cancer allows greater access to a procedure that gives more detailed information, says Southern District Health Board chief medical officer Richard Bunton.
Health Minister Tony Ryall said extra funding for PET (positron emission tomography) would allow funded scans to almost double in 2010-11, compared with 2008-09.
This financial year funding increased $800,000, which increases to $1 million extra from next month.
The procedures cost about $2000 each.
The increases meant the southern health board could fund about 35 extra procedures a year, compared with 2008-09, a spokeswoman for Mr Ryall said.
The old Otago and Southland boards together funded 21 scans in 2008-09.
Mr Bunton said PET scans gave more detailed information than CT scans, such as whether a lump was benign or malignant.
This allowed more accurate diagnosis of the condition before other procedures were undertaken.
This year, patients could have their scans in Christchurch, where PET were now available, Mr Bunton said.
Previously, they had to travel to Wellington, or, for fee-paying patients, Australia.
Mr Ryall said PET scans could do away with unnecessary surgery because of the extra information they provided.
About 650 people nationwide received publicly funded PET scans in 2008-09, which would increase by up to 550.