Lung Cancer Screening

If you are at risk for lung cancer, please ask your doctor about lung cancer screening near you. High risk individuals are current and former smokers ages 55 to 74 who have smoked cigarettes daily for at least 20 years. Please see below for information on lung cancer screening activities across Canada.

Screening ProgramBusiness Case or ProposalAdvisory CommitteePilot or Research Study

British Columbia is currently the only province with an organized lung cancer screening program in Canada. However, several other provinces and territories have initiated lung cancer screening strategies such as preparing business cases, organizing advisory committees, and planning or implementing pilot studies.

Select your province or territory to learn more about the status of lung cancer screening near you:
Alberta Currently, there is no formal lung cancer screening program in Alberta. A research program sponsored by the Alberta Cancer Foundation has been launched across the province. The study has enrolled 800 participants at risk of lung cancer to undergo chest CT scan screening and aims to find out how to best screen for lung cancer using low-dose spiral CT scan and eventually reduce mortality from the disease. At this time, the research project is ongoing but is now closed to new participants.¹ ²

British Columbia

On September 14, 2020 British Columbia became the first Canadian province to launch a formal lung cancer screening program, building on the province’s current pilot program. The new screening program will be offered by the BC Cancer Foundation and the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer and will allow British Colombians with a high risk of lung cancer to receive early detection screening.

The target population of the new lung cancer screening program will be adults aged 55 to 74 who smoke or have a heavy smoking history. The program is expected to be fully operational by the spring of 2022 and will enable approximately 300 people each year to be diagnosed earlier, giving them more treatment options.  

Manitoba Currently, there is no formal lung cancer screening program in Manitoba. However, an advisory group has been organized. The Lung Cancer Screening Advisory Group was established in 2016 to determine the possibility of formal lung cancer screening program in Manitoba. Currently, the province advises doctors and other primary care providers and specialists to use a risk-based approach to screening referrals.3
New Brunswick Currently, there is no formal lung cancer screening program, pilot projects or research studies, advisory group or other formal strategies in place for lung cancer screening in New Brunswick.4

Newfoundland & Labrador

Currently, there is no formal lung cancer screening program in Newfoundland & Labrador. An advisory group on lung cancer screening was established in 2016, but no business case or pilot programs have been created. The province also has a Thoracic Triage Panel for quick diagnosis of lung cancer, aimed at reducing wait times for lung cancer diagnosis and treatment.  

Northwest Territories

Currently, there is no formal lung cancer screening program in the Northwest Territories. However, the territory is in the process of gathering information on the potential for a screening program and is engaged in early discussions with Alberta on the possibility of joining into their work and pilot project.

Nova Scotia

Currently, there is no formal lung cancer screening program in Nova Scotia. In 2015, a business case was developed and submitted to government for an early lung cancer screening program.5

The program is under consideration by government, but no decisions have yet been made on whether to move forward with implementing a program in the province.6

Nunavut Currently, there is no formal lung cancer screening program in Nunavut. Smoking cessation and reducing second-hand smoke are the focus of initiatives in the territory at this time.7

Ontario

Currently, there is no formal lung cancer screening program in Ontario. In June 2017, Cancer Care Ontario introduced a Lung Cancer Screening Pilot for People at High Risk. Specific screening sites were selected to pilot how to best implement organized lung cancer screening for people at high risk in Ontario. The pilot is based out of the following Ontario hospitals:8

  • The Ottawa Hospital, Ottawa, with Renfrew Victoria Hospital and Cornwall Community Hospital as satellite sites
  • Health Sciences North, Sudbury
  • Lakeridge Health, Oshawa
  • University Health Network, Toronto

Results of the pilot program will inform the design and implementation of a provincial lung cancer screening program.9 For more information about Ontario’s lung cancer screening pilot, visit Cancer Care Ontario’s Lung Cancer Screening Pilot for People at High Risk. Referrals to the pilot program can be made by your family doctor or Nurse Practitioner. However, not everyone who gets a referral will be eligible for the pilot program. Each participating hospital will determine eligibility after a referral has been received.10

William Osler Health Centre (Brampton, North Etobicoke) also runs a lung cancer screen program involving many of the hospital specialties, including radiology, respirology, pathology, oncology, and a smoking cessation program. Referral to the program is made from a family physician.

Prince Edward Island Currently, there is no formal lung cancer screening program in Prince Edward Island. MRSB, a professional services firm, conducted a feasibility study for a provincial lung cancer screening program. The Lung Cancer Action Group has reviewed the report and developed recommendation for its Steering Committee’s consideration. The province is currently awaiting the results of the Ontario pilot study, which is hoped will help to inform and shape a potential program for PEI.11 At this time, focus in the province is on prevention of lung cancer through smoking cessation initiatives.12
Quebec Currently, there is no formal lung cancer screening program in Quebec. As of 2018, a request from INESSS was underway.13 INESSS is an independent body that provides evaluation and recommendations in developing clinical best-practice guidelines. This work is ongoing.14
Saskatchewan Currently, there is no formal lung cancer screening program in Saskatchewan. An advisory committee has been formed to monitor national progress on lung cancer screening initiatives.15
Yukon Currently, there is no formal lung cancer screening program in Yukon. The territory is currently working with OncoSim, a web-based simulation tool that evaluates cancer control strategies, to assess the possibility of, and develop a business case and proposal for, a lung cancer screening program.16
1 Alberta Lung Cancer Screening Program. Last accessed September 15, 2020. https://www.ucalgary.ca/lungscreening/
2 Alberta Lung Cancer Screening Program. Last accessed September 15, 2020. https://www.ucalgary.ca/lungscreening/home/lung-cancer-screening-study
3 Lung Cancer Screening in Canada: Environmental Scan. Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, 2019.
4 Lung Cancer Screening in Canada: Environmental Scan. Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, 2019.
5 Lung Cancer Screening in Canada: Environmental Scan. Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, 2019.
6 Doctor’s diagnosis leads her to push harder for early lung screening program. CBC News. July 2018. Last accessed September 15, 2020. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/early-lung-cancer-screening-program-possibility-nova-scotia-1.4707624
7 Lung Cancer Screening in Canada: Environmental Scan. Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, 2019.
8Lung Cancer Screening in Canada: Environmental Scan. Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, 2019.
9 Lung Cancer Screening in Canada: Environmental Scan. Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, 2019.
10 Lung Cancer Screening Pilot for People at High Risk. Cancer Care Ontario. Last accessed September 22, 2020. https://www.cancercareontario.ca/en/guidelines-advice/cancer-continuum/screening/lung-cancer-screening-pilot-people-at-high-risk
11 Health PEI ‘anxious’ to see results from Ontario lung cancer screening pilot. CBC News. November 29, 2019. Last accessed September 16, 2020. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-lung-cancer-coordinator-update-1.5376714
12 Lung Cancer Screening in Canada: Environmental Scan. Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, 2019.
13 Lung Cancer Screening in Canada: Environmental Scan. Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, 2019.
14 Lung Cancer Phase 2020: Screening. INESSS. Last accessed September 22, 2020. https://www.inesss.qc.ca/en/projects/on-going-projects/project-record/algorithme-cancer-du-poumon-phase-2020-depistage.html
15Lung Cancer Screening in Canada: Environmental Scan. Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, 2019. 16Lung Cancer Screening in Canada: Environmental Scan. Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, 2019.
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