Ontario will make positron emission tomography — or PET scans — a publicly insured health service for some cancer and cardiac patients.

PET scanning is a nuclear medicine diagnostic imaging exam that can provide information on both the location and the extent of the metabolic activity of abnormal tissues such as cancer. It has the potential to identify the areas of abnormal metabolic activity that are not always found with MRI or CT scans.

PET scans can help determine the stage or extent of some cancers, and can be useful in making treatment decisions in certain advanced heart conditions.

Ontario ombudsman Andre Marin pushed the province to expand PET scans after receiving numerous complaints from doctors and patients.

Opposition health critic Elizabeth Witmer said she was encouraged to see the province agree to fund more PET scans.

It has been seven years since the Ontario government decided to conduct clinical trials to determine whether it should fund PET scans for specific conditions. For patients with indications for which PET scans will not be funded, doctors will still be able to make a request for funding through the PET Access Program.

By October, insured PET scans will be performed in Ottawa, London, Toronto, Hamilton and Thunder Bay.