BC Cancer launches lung-screening program

BC Cancer has launched a provincewide lung cancer screening program, providing access to eligible high-risk people at 36 sites throughout the province.

“BC Cancer’s clinicians and researchers are leading Canada with the launch of this innovative program that will save and improve the quality of people’s lives,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Almost everyone across the province has been touched by cancer in some way. By screening eligible people for lung cancer, it can be detected earlier so people can get treatment earlier.”

The Province, through BC Cancer, is providing approximately $2.75 million annually toward the operating costs of the program. The BC Cancer Foundation contributed approximately $1.93 million to support specialized software needed to interpret the required scans. The Canadian Partnership Against Cancer provided nearly $800,000 in project funding to start the program.

The Lung Screening Program expects to start screening close to 10,000 patients in the first year of the program, with this number expected to increase by approximately 15% per year. It is estimated the program will diagnose approximately 150 lung cancer cases annually, with more than 75% of these diagnosed at an earlier stage than without screening.

“The launch of Canada’s first provincewide Lung Screening Program is a credit to the team at BC Cancer, who are dedicated to quality patient care and passionate about reducing the burden of cancer in British Columbia, including for Indigenous people who are disproportionately impacted by lung cancer,” said David Byres, president and CEO, Provincial Health Services Authority. “I’d like to thank our government and community partners as well as our health-care workers and researchers who made this program a reality.”

Lung screening is available provincewide through 36 sites across all health authorities using the existing computed tomography (CT) scanning capacity.

Lung screening is best suited for those who are at high risk for lung cancer and who are not experiencing symptoms. Eligible participants may include those who are:

  • between 55 and 74;
  • currently smoking or have previously smoked; and
  • have a smoking history of 20 years or more.

Patients who meet the above criteria are encouraged to call the Lung Screening Program at 1 877 717-5864 to complete a consultation and risk assessment to determine eligibility.

Key benefits of a provincewide screening program:

  • equitable access for eligible British Columbians;
  • early detection resulting in improved survival rates; and
  • consistent, high-level screening and prevention delivered via a centralized program.

BC Cancer clinicians and researchers led by Dr. Stephen Lam, medical director of the BC Cancer Lung Screening Program, are leading the program’s implementation.

“Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in Canada and worldwide,” Lam said. “In B.C., seven people die of lung cancer every day. With 70% of all cases diagnosed at an advanced stage, the Lung Screening Program aims to change this trend by detecting the majority of lung cancers at an early stage when treatment is more effective.”

The centralized program will determine who is eligible, communicate results to patients, provide a pathway to cancer care if required and provide information on smoking-cessation programs.


Press Release: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2022HLTH0145-000816