Lung cancer screening program announced

SAINT JOHN (GNB) – The provincial government has begun working on the development of a lung cancer screening program aimed at high-risk patients. The program is expected to be rolled out provincewide in 2025.

New Brunswick has one of the highest rates of lung cancer in Canada, accounting for more cancer deaths than colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined. About one in four cancer deaths in New Brunswick, in both men and women, is due to lung cancer.

“The $3.4-million annual investment we are making to support lung cancer screening is an important one for our province,” said Health Minister Bruce Fitch. “By detecting cancer at an earlier stage, this program will save the lives of many New Brunswickers for years to come. This is just another way we are ensuring our patients receive dependable, high-quality public health care.”

The centralized program will enable health-care staff to determine who is eligible, communicate results to patients, provide information on smoking cessation programs, and support a pathway to cancer care if required.

About 3,200 people per year will be eligible for screening.

“The New Brunswick Cancer Network is proud to be able to take what we have learned from the successful provincial colon, cervix and breast screening programs to develop this plan,” said Dr. Eshwar Kumar, medical officer at the network. “By building from the strong foundation of organized programs, high-quality lung cancer screening will be available to all New Brunswickers.”

Lung cancer screening, which involves a low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scan of the lungs, is best suited for those who are at high risk and who are not experiencing symptoms.

Eligible participants will include those who are between the ages of 50 and 74, are currently smoking or have previously smoked, and have a smoking history of 20 years or more.

Currently, most lung cancers are diagnosed at stage three or four which means the cancer cells have already spread from the lungs to other areas of the body. It is expected that the lung cancer screening program will lead to longer survival, lower mortality rates, and more treatment options for patients.

“The diagnostic and thoracic oncology teams at Horizon will play a vital role in the early detection of lung cancer through this program, which will provide more treatment options for those diagnosed and, ultimately, improve patient outcomes,” said Greg Doiron, vice-president of clinical operations at Horizon Health Network. “This aligns with Horizon’s critical priorities of improving access to services and enhancing the health-care experience for our patients and their loved ones.”

An advisory committee has been created to oversee the design and implementation of this screening program, including information technology infrastructure, clinical practice guidelines, and communication and awareness tools for health-care providers.


Media Contact:

Sean Hatchard – Department of Health Communications