(Gazette, Winnipeg Free Press, Feb. 10: Globe and Mail, Feb. 8)
The isotope supply situation is about to get worse. The Chalk River nuclear reactor has been out of commission since May 2009 to fix a leak. Now the Petten reactor in the Netherlands will shut down next Friday for repairs. The two reactors account for about 60 per cent of the global production of medical isotopes for nuclear medicine. This has a particular impact on cancer diagnoses. Hospitals are looking far afield for replacement supply.
The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, for example, has been scouting out Argentina as a possible source. An editorial in the Montreal Gazette Wednesday said nuclear medicine specialists and the government in Quebec should be congratulated for anticipating the problem and ensuring 30 per cent of cancer patients can now be diagnosed with Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans. The Chalk River facility could be back on line in April, all going well with repairs.