Skip to content

Health Matters: Early Lung Cancer Screening

Health Matters podcast MUHC foundation Dream Big Posts

This week on Health Matters, Tarah Schwartz speaks with a cancer patient at the MUHC who is one of the first in Canada to receive an innovative new treatment. Dr. Nicole Ezer discusses an early lung cancer screening for former or current smokers.

(Time on podcast: 11:20). 13,000 die in Quebec from tobacco use every year. Dr. Nicole Ezer discusses lung cancer screening and smoking cessation. Smoking has an impact not only on the lungs, but also on the heart and the brain. With time, smoking causes airway inflammation and lung destruction (emphysema) and reduced lung function. Smoking increases the thickness of our blood, so this can reduce a person’s oxygen levels when they smoke, even if they are only casual or occasional smokers. Because lung cancer does not cause many symptoms, it is often only detected once it is larger or has started to spread. Later stages of cancer are more difficult to treat. Ideally, if the cancer is caught earlier, treatments and surgical interventions have a better chance of success. People can be screened with a CT scan to detect abnormal spots on the lung to see if they grow over time. Candidates eligible for early lung cancer screening in Quebec are people between the ages of 55-74 who are current or former smokers. Anyone can call and be evaluated to determine if they are eligible for the screening program. This program started at the MUHC in 2018 and is has been available across the province since 2021. The hope is that this program will be available in the long term and show that early screening can catch lung cancers early and prevent death.

Quitting smoking is incredibly difficult for many. The best advice is to not give up. Most people try 2-3 times before being successful in quitting smoking. People have to be aware that there are medications and psychological support programs available to help with smoking cessation.

For information on the screening program:

Lung Cancer Screening Program / Programme de Dépistage du Cancer du Poumon

Listen to the podcast

How are you sleeping? The MUHC Foundation’s Health Matters. January 23, 2022.

Where to listen: