B.C.’s lung cancer screening program is available for people aged 55 to 74 who have smoked for 20 years or more. (Boaz Joseph/Black Press)

B.C.’s lung cancer screening program is available for people aged 55 to 74 who have smoked for 20 years or more. (Boaz Joseph/Black Press)

B.C. expanding lung cancer screening for earlier diagnosis

CT scans for older people who are long-time smokers

The B.C. government is expanding its lung cancer screening program to 36 locations around the province, using existing CT scanners to check people aged from 55 to 74 who have smoked for at least 20 years.

Patients who meet those criteria can call the health ministry’s lung screening program at 1-877-717-5864 to complete a consultation and risk assessment to determine if they are eligible for the screening, which will be available in all five regional health authorities. The aim is to get earlier diagnosis of at-risk people before they have symptoms.

“Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in Canada and worldwide,” Dr. Stephen Lam of B.C. Cancer said May 25. “In B.C., seven people die of lung cancer every day. With 70 per cent 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 lung screening program expects to start screening close to 10,000 patients in the first year of full operation, expected to increase by approximately 15 per cenrt per year. It is estimated the program will diagnose approximately 150 lung cancer cases annually, with more than 75 per cent of these diagnosed at an earlier stage than without screening.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said Wednesday that B.C. is the first province in Canada to have cancer screening available province-wide. More information on the program is available here.

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@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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