LUNG CANCER

DETECTION

Early detection of lung cancer is key to helping improve your chance of survival. However, a 2020 Canadian Cancer Society report showed that only about 21% of lung cancers are diagnosed at Stage 1, when the estimated percentage of people who are still alive after 3 years is over 70%. Around 50% of lung cancer cases are diagnosed at Stage 4, at which point the estimated percentage of people who are still alive after 3 years drops to 5%. A major reason why lung cancers are diagnosed at a late stage is that symptoms are often unnoticeable at early stages.

Over 70% survival rate

3–year net survival estimates

5% survival rate
Stage 1 around 21% of lung cancers diagnosed

Screening for lung cancer can help detect it at an early stage, when it may respond better to treatment. Work together with your doctor to determine if you fit the eligibility criteria for lung cancer screening and if lung cancer screening is available in your province.

Stage 4 around 50% of lung cancers diagnosed
Over 70% survival rate
Stage 1 around 21% of lung cancers diagnosed

3–year net survival estimates

Screening for lung cancer can help detect it at an early stage, when it may respond better to treatment. Work together with your doctor to determine if you fit the eligibility criteria for lung cancer screening and if lung cancer screening is available in your province.

5% survival rate
Stage 4 around 50% of lung cancers diagnosed

Low–dose computed tomography (LDCT) screening

If your doctor determines that you fit the eligibility criteria determined by your province for lung cancer screening, they may recommend that you get an LDCT scan. LDCT uses much less radiation than a regular CT scan to take a detailed picture of your chest. The scan will be used to look for signs of lung cancer.

In their 2016 guidelines, the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care recommended screening for lung cancer with low–dose computed tomography (LDCT) scans every year for 3 years in a row in high–risk adults aged 55–74 years who currently smoke or who quit less than 15 years ago, with a smoking history of at least 30 pack–years.*

There are possible risks associated with testing for lung cancer, such as radiation, false positives or complications from follow–up tests. Still, when lung cancer screening is done in high–risk individuals, the benefits of LDCT testing are found to outweigh the potential harms. There is not enough evidence to know if screening for lung cancer is effective for people who have smoked less than 30 pack–years or for people who have other risk factors for lung cancer. People who are not at high risk based on their smoking history should not be screened.

Speak with your doctor to determine if you are at high risk of lung cancer. Your doctor can tell you if your province has a screening program in place for lung cancer and if you fit the eligibility criteria.

Low–dose computed tomography (LDCT) screening
Early detection using LDCT has been shown to reduce lung cancer deaths by 20%.

Early detection of lung cancer

If you or a loved one are at risk or are experiencing any symptoms of lung cancer, don’t wait to get the ball rolling. Your doctor may not bring it up with you, so it’s important for you to ask your doctor about your risk of lung cancer.

  • In a recent survey, only about 13% of Canadians reported that their doctor had brought up a conversation about risk factors of lung cancer with them. Of those, 35% said their doctor hadn’t recommended testing

Although the possibility of being diagnosed with lung cancer can be scary, it’s important to remember that early detection of lung cancer is key. When lung cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, it may respond better to treatment.

If you or your loved one are at risk or are experiencing any possible symptoms of lung cancer, don’t wait to TAKE ACTION. Speak to your doctor. If you don’t have a family doctor, contact your provincial cancer association for assistance.

Early detection of lung cancer
If you think you’re at risk or have symptoms of lung cancer, talk to your doctor right away.

If you think you’re at risk or have symptoms of lung cancer, talk to your doctor right away.

Download the Early Detection Discussion Guide

MVP=most valuable player.

*
Lung cancer screening is currently only available in select provinces.

Results from a Merck survey of 1,000 Canadians aged 18 and older between July 15–23, 2021, to assess Canadians’ behaviour around personal health and their knowledge of lung cancer symptoms and statistics.