British Columbians at high risk of lung cancer will soon be able to receive early detection screening through a new lung cancer screening program offered by BC Cancer – the first of its kind in Canada. (BC Cancer photo)

B.C. launches early detection lung cancer screening – the first in Canada

First participants are expected to start receiving scans by spring 2022

British Columbians at high risk of lung cancer will soon be able to receive early detection screening through a new lung cancer screening program offered by BC Cancer – the first of its kind in Canada.

The target population for this new cancer screening program will be adults aged 55 to 74 who smoke or have a heavy smoking history. It’s expected the first participants could be receiving scans by spring 2022.

“We are here to change outcomes for people who face cancer. Donors have driven innovation and research into lung cancer screening at BC Cancer for the past decade, “ said Sarah Roth, president and chief executive officer (CEO), BC Cancer Foundation.

“Today, thanks to generous individuals across B.C., we raised $1.75 million for vital equipment and start-up costs, we are proud to be a part of Canadian history, as our Government of BC launches the first life-saving lung cancer screening program.”

Read more: First PET/CT scanner in the Interior for cancer patients

Read more: Latest coronavirus news

It is anticipated approximately 300 people will be diagnosed each year through the program.

They will be diagnosed earlier, giving them more treatment options.

“This is a truly important day for British Columbians,” said Dr. Kim Chi, vice-president and chief medical officer, BC Cancer. “Our clinicians and scientists have been working for years to get to this point, which is being made possible by the leadership and investment from the government of British Columbia and our valued funding partners, the BC Cancer Foundation and the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer.”

In 2020, an estimated 3,300 people in B.C. will be diagnosed with lung cancer. Through early detection with this new lung cancer screening program, the goal is to see survival rates dramatically improve.

“More people die of lung cancer than colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined,” concluded Benoit Martin, president and CEO, Provincial Health Services Authority.

“With the new lung cancer screening program, we will have the opportunity to make a tangible difference in the lives of thousands of British Columbians thanks to early detection and intervention. This program is an excellent example of what’s possible through meaningful, focused partnership.”

This lung cancer screening program supports other recent actions the government has taken to invest in early cancer diagnosis and treatment, including the addition of regional cancer centres at the second Surrey Hospital and Burnaby Hospital, and the expansion and investment in BC Cancer centres throughout the province with new state-of-the-art PET/CT scanners in Kelowna and Victoria.

British Columbia was also one of the first jurisdictions to create a cervical and breast cancer screening program.

Quick Facts:

• Six British Columbians die of lung cancer each day.

• Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in Canada and worldwide.

• Lung cancer is the third most-common cancer in males and the second most-common cancer in females.

• Lung cancer primarily affects people aged 50 years and older.

• 70 per cent of all lung cancers are currently diagnosed at an advanced stage, and when symptoms are already present.

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