Canadian Partnership Against Cancer statement re: Canadian Cancer Statistics: 2020 special report on lung cancer

“The Canadian Partnership Against Cancer (the Partnership) is pleased to see the release of Canadian Cancer Statistics: A 2020 special report on lung cancer. The report includes data gathered using the Partnership’s microsimulation model, OncoSim, and we continue to value our ongoing collaboration with the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) to support its vital work in improving cancer care and support for all people in Canada affected by the disease.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in Canada, but we can change this. As data in the report show, lung cancer caught at an earlier stage has better treatment outcomes and ultimately higher survival rates. The evidence is clear that there’s an urgent need for organized lung cancer screening programs in every province and territory.

The burden of lung cancer is higher for some populations in Canada, including people with low income, people who live in rural or remote areas, and First Nations, Inuit and Métis. Later this year, the Partnership will be releasing a digital report showing how systemic barriers impact the lung cancer experience and treatment outcomes for some populations in Canada. The report presents new data showing how having a lower income can drastically impact a lung cancer patient’s access to timely diagnosis and potentially life-saving treatment, and describes system-level changes that need to happen to reduce inequities in lung cancer screening and clinical care.

The special report comes at an important time as the Partnership is working with our partners across Canada, including CCS, to launch organized lung cancer screening programs for high-risk individuals starting next year. These efforts are in line with other countries known for innovative cancer practices, namely the UK and Australia, who are looking to start similar screening programs.

Lung cancer screening programs will require a community health effort and a system for primary care physician referrals for people at high risk. The programs must work alongside existing cessation services to help people in their efforts to quit smoking. It’s also paramount that these programs place a special focus on First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples-specific approaches to increase the accessibility of these programs for First Nations, Inuit and Métis.

As the special report indicates, implementing organized lung cancer screening in Canada can lead to up to 17,000 fewer stage 4 diagnoses and up to 11,100 fewer deaths over 20 years. The time is now to see these programs off the ground.

With the implementation of these programs, the Partnership and our partners will be delivering  on Priority 2 of the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control (2019-2029) by creating solutions to diagnose cancer faster, accurately and at an earlier stage. This will help achieve a future in Canada where fewer people develop cancer, more people survive cancer and those living with the disease have a better quality of life.”

-Cynthia Morton, CEO, Canadian Partnership Against Cancer