PET Scanning in Ontario
Twelve PET centres across the province provide PET scans for people who meet the criteria for funding.
Ontario uses evidence to inform decisions about the use of PET scans. Read more about how Ontario builds evidence for PET scanning in the Ontario's Evidence-Based Approach section of this page.
PET Scanning Services
PET scans in Ontario are available as OHIP-covered (insured) or uninsured services (PET Registry, Clinical Trials, PET Access Program) based on established criteria. There is no charge to the patient for any PET scans provided as part of the PET Scans Ontario program.
PET scans are not funded for Ontario residents who receive a PET scan either:
- within Canada for services outside of the insured or uninsured programs
- out of country without prior approval from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s Out of Country unit
PET Scans Ontario provides referral forms for all indications, by disease site, which physicians may use to submit requests to PET centres. See Refer a Patient for eligibility criteria and forms.
Insured PET Services
The Ontario Health Insurance Program (OHIP) pays for PET scans for indications (diseases or conditions) that meet all of these criteria:
- there is enough evidence that the PET scan has the potential to benefit the patient
- PET scanning has advantages over other imaging tests
- the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has approved funding
The Ontario PET Registry makes PET scans available to patients in certain cases where some evidence supports the benefit of PET scanning, but the evidence is too weak to support funding through the Ontario Health Insurance Program (OHIP).
The registry collects data on participating patients to strengthen the evidence supporting the use of PET scans for eligible indications.
PET clinical trials test a hypothesis that a PET scan improves diagnosis, treatment and/or patient outcome when there is little or no published evidence.
The PET Scans Ontario Program supports PET clinical trials approved by the PET Steering Committee and conducted by established research organizations, such as the Ontario Clinical Oncology Group (OCOG).
Other PET clinical trials may be available through local hospitals. These are run by local investigators and are not part of the PET Scans Ontario program.
If you are a patient and you would like more information about clinical trials, contact your doctor or nurse practitioner, or your local hospital.
PET Access Program
The Ontario PET Access Program considers requests on a case-by-case basis to fund PET scans for patients who may benefit, but who do not meet the eligibility criteria for funding under any other program. For funding to be granted, a panel of experts must agree that a PET scan will provide more benefit to the patient than other available tests.
Physicians applying through this program have to confirm in the application that other diagnostic tests do not provide the clinical information needed. They must also explain how a PET scan may influence the clinical management of the patient.
For more information on the PET Access Program, including policies and processes, please see the PET Access Policy.
Ontario’s Evidence-Based Approach to PET
As PET technology was emerging in the early 2000s, many places started using PET scans as part of routine clinical care. Yet there was little evidence that PET made a significant difference to clinical decisions and patient outcomes. Ontario began supporting high-quality clinical trials to find out where PET scanning affects clinical decisions or provides value over other tests.
By 2009, the evidence supported routine use of PET for some clinical scenarios. Ontario added these indications to the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). That ensured patients would receive PET scans only for approved uses.
Ontario continues to build evidence by assessing new indications through the PET Registry and clinical trials. For clinical scenarios where the evidence is more limited, the province operates the PET Access Program for case-by-case reviews. For more information, see the PET Registry, Clinical Trials and PET Access Program sections on this page.
A Provincial PET Steering Committee makes recommendations on new evidence-based clinical indications. The committee includes clinical oncologists, nuclear medicine physicians, and other experts in PET technology and related areas.