On Monday, September 14 Premier John Horgan along with Adrian Dix, Minister of Health along with BC Cancer’s Dr. Kim Chi announced a new lung screening program – a first in Canada. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in Canada and worldwide; in B.C. six people die of lung cancer every day. With 70 per cent of all cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage, the lung screening program aims to detect lung cancer earlier in adults aged 55-74 who are at high risk, such as having a history of heavy smoking.
“This is a truly important day for British Columbians,” said Dr. Kim Chi, 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.”
Dr. Stephen Lam, BC Cancer
BC Cancer’s Dr. Stephen Lam, is the director of the MDS/Rix Early Lung Detection Program. He and his team have been running a clinical trial for high-risk individuals for several years.
“This program will save the lives of many British Columbians for years to come,” says Dr. Stephen Lam. “Currently, the majority of lung cancers are diagnosed at stage III or IV, which means that the cancer cells have already spread from the lungs. The lung screening program will improve outcomes by detecting cancer at earlier stages. This will lead to longer survival, lower mortality rates, and more treatment options.”
Lisa Kan is the executive director for BC Cancer’s screening and prevention program. Her team developed the plan to implement the lung cancer screening program. Work will begin right away to set up the infrastructure and logistics of the program with scans expected to begin in spring 2022.
“Monday’s announcement was a long time in the making and I’m overjoyed that we are able to announce the screening program,” says Lisa. “The screening and prevention team is so proud to be able to take what we have learned from the successful Cervix, Breast and Colon Screening Programs to develop this plan. By building from the strong foundation of organized programs, high quality lung screening can soon be available to eligible population in B.C.”
Once the program is fully implemented across the province, approximately 20,000 people per year would be provided with lung cancer screening. It’s expected that about 300 lung cancers would be diagnosed each year with more than 75 per cent diagnosed at an earlier stage than would be previously.