CancerCare Manitoba
News Item

March 8, 2016

Long-time smokers encouraged to get screened

Lung cancer one of Manitoba's most commonly diagnosed cancers

New guidelines released today by the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care (CTFPHC) recommend annual screening for lung cancer using low-dose computed tomography (low-dose CT) up to three consecutive years in adults who:
  • are aged 55-74
  • are current smokers or former smokers who quit within the last 15 years, and
  • have smoked one pack a day for at least 30 years (or two packs a day for 15 years or equivalent; i.e. 30 "pack-years").

"Lung cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers and the most common cause of cancer-related deaths in Manitoba," said Dr. Sri Navaratnam, President and CEO of CancerCare Manitoba. "These new guidelines point to the value of screening for lung cancer, similar to CancerCare Manitoba?s Breast, Cervix and ColonCheck screening programs."

In 2015 it was estimated that there were 890 cases of lung cancer and 710 deaths in Manitoba (Canadian Cancer Statistics); 98% of cases occur in people 50 years of age or older; 65% of cases diagnosed in Manitoba in 2013 were late Stage [3 (20%) or 4 (45.3%)].

Mortality is extremely high in late stage lung cancer, but lower in earlier stages. Screening aims to detect disease at an early stage when it may respond better to treatment and be less likely to cause serious illness or death.

Smoking is the main risk factor for lung cancer. Therefore smoking cessation programs should be linked to any screening activity whether through primary care providers or an organized program.

The recommendations apply to people without symptoms who meet the screening criteria; they do not apply to people with a history of lung cancer or who are suspected of having lung cancer. Those individuals should be referred for diagnostic testing.

Anyone who thinks they are eligible to be screened should talk to their primary care provider.

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