PET Scans Ontario
Insured PET Services

Positron Emission Tomography, or PET scanning, is a publicly insured health service available since October 1, 2009 to patients under certain conditions.

Sixteen indications (diagnostic situations or conditions) are approved for funding as an insured service. An indication is insured when there is sufficient evidence both that the PET scan will benefit the patient and that it has advantages over other testing tools. These PET scans are paid for by the Ontario Health Insurance Program (OHIP).

View indications for insured PET scans

Insured indications



  • Colorectal cancer:
    • where recurrent disease is suspected on the basis of an elevated and/or rising carcinoembryronic antigen (CEA) level(s) during follow-up after surgical resection but standard imaging tests are negative or equivocal; OR
    • prior to surgery for liver metastases from colorectal cancer when the procedure is high risk (e.g., multiple staged liver resection or vascular reconstruction), or where the patient is at high risk for surgery (e.g., American Society of Anesthesiology [ASA] score ≥ 4).


  • Germ cell tumours:
    • where recurrent disease is suspected on the basis of elevated tumour marker(s) - (beta human chorionic gonadotrophin [HCG] and/or alpha fetoprotein) and standard imaging tests are negative; OR
    • where persistent disease is suspected on the basis of the presence of a residual mass after primary treatment for seminoma when curative surgical resection is being considered.


  • Unknown Primary: for the evaluation of metastatic squamous cell carcinoma in neck nodes when the primary disease site is unknown after standard radiologic and clinical investigation. Note: a panendoscopy is NOT required prior to the PET scan; OR
  • Nasopharyngeal (baseline staging): for the staging of nasopharyngeal cancer; OR
  • Thyroid (recurrence): where recurrent or persistent disease is suspected on the basis of elevated and/or rising tumour markers (e.g., thyroglobulin) with negative or equivocal conventional imaging work-up.


  • Lymphoma:
    • End of therapy response assessment: for the evaluation of residual mass(es) following chemotherapy in a patient with Hodgkin's or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma when further potentially curative therapy (such as radiation or stem cell transplantation) is being considered; OR
    • Interim Response Assessment (Hodgkin’s): for the assessment of response in Hodgkin's lymphoma following two (2) or three (3) cycles of chemotherapy when curative therapy is being considered.


  • Lung cancer:
    • Solitary Pulmonary Nodule (SPN): for a semi-solid or solid lung nodule for which a diagnosis could not be established by a needle biopsy due to unsuccessful attempted needle biopsy; the SPN is inaccessible to needle biopsy; or the existence of a contra-indication to the use of needle biopsy; OR
    • Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC):
      • for initial staging of patients with NSCLC (Clinical Stage I – III) being considered for potentially curative therapy; OR Note: Histological proof is not required prior to PET if there is high clinical suspicion for NSCLC (e.g., based on patient history and/or prior imaging)
      • for re-staging of patients with locoregional recurrence, after primary treatment, being considered for definitive salvage therapy; OR Note: PET is appropriate for patients with either histological proof of locoregional recurrence or strong clinical and radiological suspicion of recurrence who are being considered for definitive salvage therapy
    • Small cell lung cancer (SCLC): for initial staging of patients with limited disease SCLC where combined modality therapy with chemotherapy and radiotherapy is being considered.
  • Esophageal cancer:
    • for baseline staging assessment of those patients diagnosed with esophageal cancer being considered for curative therapy; AND/OR
    • repeat PET/CT scan on completion of pre-operative/ neoadjuvant therapy, prior to surgery.


  • Myocardial viability assessment: in a patient suitable for a cardiac revascularization procedure or cardiac transplantation with moderate to severe ischemic left ventricular dysfunction (left ventricular ejection fraction of 40% or less) despite maximal therapy; and prior myocardial viability or stress imaging assessment with another modality (i.e. SPECT using thallium, MIBI or dobutamine stress echocardiography) has been equivocal for viability or demonstrated insufficient viable myocardium or a patient with severe ischemic left ventricular dysfunction and known multi-vessel coronary disease (determined by coronary angiography) urgently requires an assessment of myocardial viability

Patients who do not meet the criteria for insured PET scans may be eligible for a funded PET scan through the PET Scans Ontario program or a local clinical trial.

How to request an insured PET scan

  • If you are a patient:
    • Speak with your physician to determine whether a PET scan is an appropriate diagnostic or treatment assessment tool for you, and whether you are eligible for an insured PET scan.
    • All referrals for insured PET scans must be made by a physician.
  • If you are a physician:
    • Review the list of insured indications (above) to confirm that your patient is eligible for an insured PET scan.
    • If they are not, view these pages to find information about eligibility and access for the uninsured programs:
    • Register now / Log in to the online referral tool to access PET-centre-specific forms and submit your completed request, including any relevant supporting documentation.

Want more information?
Contact the PET Scans Ontario Information Line at 1-877-4PET-411 (1-877-473-8411; toll-free in Canada only).