“In 80% of patients we operate on, the tumor is easy to find,” says Theo Ruers, Professor of Surgical Oncology at the Netherlands Cancer Institute. “It looks like a marble within a sponge, and that marble is easy to see or feel during surgery. But in 20% of cases, the tumor is a sponge within a sponge. Difficult to find, and therefore difficult to remove. That’s why we are investing in developing image-guided surgery. We want to be able to see on a screen whether our scalpel is reaching the tumor.”
The Netherlands Cancer Institute is investing in the latest diagnostic imaging equipment with the aim of improving their cancer treatment. Their brand new digital PET/CT scanner will be one of the first in Europe, allowing them to see the same level of detail while managing activity.
“Our institute always wants to have the best equipment,” says Marcel Stokkel, head of Nuclear Medicine. “The first ever PET scanner with time of flight was delivered here. Until we got that scanner, we could only see lesions of 1 cm – something a surgeon would feel with his bare hands. We can now go smaller. In the future, I’d love to go down to 2 mm. That would bring you to the level of micrometastases.”