Lung screening in BC is organized under a partnership framework with regional health authorities, hospital screening sites, primary care providers, and specialists. With 70 per cent of all cases diagnosed at an advanced stage, the Lung Screening Program aims to detect lung cancer at an earlier stage, when treatment is more effective. A network of lung screening clinics has been established across BC within each health authority, using the existing computed tomography (CT) capacity in hospitals for patients to access.
Lung screening involves a low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scan of the lungs. During the scan, the patient lies on a table, and a CT scanner takes detailed images of their lungs. The scan takes less than 15 seconds and is not painful. Patients do not need to take any medications, or receive any needles for this test. After a patient's LDCT scan, a radiologist with expertise in early diagnosis will review the images taken at a designated reading site located within the patient's health authority. Results of the patient's lung scan will be sent to the patient and their primary care provider.
An organized lung screening program is essential for the following reasons:
- To ensure eligible British Columbians have an equitable opportunity to participate in high quality lung screening;
- To ease the burden on primary care providers by acting as a centralized resource and assuming responsibility for eligibility determination, shared decision making, smoking cessation counselling, results communication, early recall notification and future surveillance reminders until upper age limit is reached, or the individuals are no longer eligible for screening due to co-morbidities;
- To provide standardized communication, screening and care to individuals at high-risk for lung cancer; and,
- If screening results are abnormal, to provide individuals with the appropriate recommendation for further testing and follow-up.