SUDBURY – Health Sciences North officially opened its PET scanner suite.

The machine has been operating at Sudbury's hospital since June, but October 9 was the official celebration of something the community has worked for since 2009.

A PET scan is a nuclear imaging test used to diagnose different kinds of cancer, cardiovascular disease and neurological disorders.

"So what a PET scan does is it uses a radioactive sugar compound that helps us to detect where cancer cells are. Since it’s a sugar compound it's taken up by cells that are very active, and since cancer cells are very active, it's our best test for determining exactly where all the cancer is located in a patient," explained Dr. Ryan Carlson, Radiation Oncologist.

"It will allow patients to have one of their scans, which is very high tech and modern and high sensitivity, and they don't have to go down south to Sunnybrook Hospital or Princess Margaret, they can have it here in the north," said Dr. Tom Carr, Health Sciences North.

It's an $8.9 million project that the 'Sam Bruno PET Scanner Fund' has been working towards for 10 years.

Bruno was a healthcare advocate who died of colon cancer in 2009 while fighting for improved cancer care close to home.

"He knew for him it was a bit too late, he couldn't recover from his cancer, so he wanted to inspire those that are challenged with cancer, that there was this technology available, and he wanted to have that support here in Sudbury, so people wouldn't have to make that treacherous drive," said Frank Bruno, Sam's brother.

"The dream that Sam Bruno had brought forward that not only Ontarians would have access to PET scan, but one would be located in the Northeast, finally came through. For dozens of people on the Sam Bruno organizing committee, it is pure, pure joy," said France Gelinas, Nickel Belt MPP (NDP).

A PET scan takes about an hour and a half from start to finish.

Health Sciences North officials say it will save patients in Northeastern Ontario close to a million kilometres in travel each year.