Nova Scotia Becomes the Latest Province to Create a Lung Cancer Screening Program

The Canadian Cancer Survivor Network congratulates Nova Scotia Health for creating a Lung Cancer Screening Program, announced in January 2024. Screening will be open to the province’s Central Zone Community, including Halifax and the surrounding area, Eastern Shore, and West Hants. The province plans to eventually offer screening throughout the province. Nova Scotia joins Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta in taking steps to implement a lung cancer screening program.

CCSN has joined other cancer organizations in raising awareness among governments and other decision makers across Canada about the importance of lung cancer screening so that lung cancer can be diagnosed early and thus treated rather than late, when treatment is more onerous and often not successful. CCSN staff were in the legislature in Halifax in November 2022 to support the introduction of a bill to create a lung cancer screening program.

And in October 2023, Jackie Manthorne, CCSN’s President & CEO, was co-chair of the Patient Voices in the Future of Oncology in Nova Scotia Roundtable in Halifax, held in partnership with the Nova Scotia Health Innovation Hub, where Manthorne presented on cancer screening in Nova Scotia, especially the need for a permanent lung cancer screening program for the province.

“It’s time, it’s overdue,” Manthorne commented about Nova Scotia’s new Lung Cancer Screening Program. “Lung cancer is Canada’s number one cancer killer, and yet we know lives can be saved when people are screened. We look forward the time when screening is available to everyone living in Nova Scotia, and when high radon exposure in finally added to the screening criteria.”

Dr. Daria Manos, Radiologist and Medical Director at the Lung Screening Program, said, “lung cancer screening, combined with stopping smoking, will reduce the number of Nova Scotians who die from the disease. This is why the Lung Screening Program includes tobacco cessation supports for people who are interested in quitting. Smoking is an addiction, a powerful addiction that almost always starts before the age of 18. We are here to help. Our job is to help Nova Scotians prevent lung cancer when we can or find it as early as possible when treatment works better.”

Screening is open to those between 50 and 74 years of age who have smoked cigarettes every day for at least 20 years. Former smokers who meet the criteria will also be included. Nova Scotia Health adds that the 20 years does not have to be in a row. People who fall under these categories are invited to call the program at 1-833-505-LUNG to schedule an appointment with a nurse navigator.

The new lung cancer screening program includes information about improving lung health and provides support people who are interested in quitting smoking. For those who meet the criteria, this also includes a CT scan for people at a high risk for lung cancer. At this time, those who are not considered high risk will not be assessed, and they will not be offered a CT scan.

Other cancer care improvements announced include more funding for community oncology clinics, better communication between providers and patients, plus expanded access to more technologies to fight cancer.

For more information about the program, click here.