wes bland

Wes Bland was diagnosed with lung cancer in late August, and recently underwent a test to determine whether it has spread to his lymph nodes. (Adam Burns/CBC)

Ontario's health ministry says it will clarify its PET scan policy with Manitoba, after a Kenora man had to travel to Thunder Bay for the diagnostic procedure.

Wes Bland was diagnosed with lung cancer at a Winnipeg hospital in August, but doctors told him that he would need to undergo a positron emission tomography, or PET, scan before the tumour could be removed.

After weeks of waiting for the hospital to book his appointment, Bland learned that he would instead have to go to a cancer centre in Thunder Bay because he did not have permission from Ontario to have the procedure done outside the province.

Kenora is located 489 kilometres west of Thunder Bay — more than twice the 209-kilometre distance between Kenora and Winnipeg.

"I don't know how anybody could say, ‘Okay Wes, you go to Thunder Bay to do this,’ when I'm two hours away from a place that could do the same thing," Bland said.

Prior approval encouraged

In an email to CBC News, a Ministry of Health spokesperson said prior approval isn't necessary for an Ontario resident to get a PET scan in Manitoba — but it is encouraged.  

Ontario officials said they recently informed Manitoba about the process for obtaining that approval, but added that they will now clarify the rules.

Joanne LaCourciere, program director at Thunder Bay’s Regional Cancer Care Centre, said it's easy to see how confusion around these kinds of procedures might occur.

"There's some issues around differences across provinces in terms of what types of scans different provinces will fund,” LaCourciere said. “So as you cross provincial boundaries, there could be some complications in that regard."

She said that given the choice, few people will travel to Thunder Bay from Kenora for treatment and testing.