New lung screening program set to transform cancer care in Nova Scotia

A new screening program will help save lives by preventing lung cancer and finding it earlier.

The Lung Screening Program, which includes clinical assessment and computerized tomography (CT) scans, targets people at very high risk of developing lung cancer. The program also provides information about lung health and help to stop smoking.

“Cancer touches every Nova Scotian in one way or another, either directly or through friends, family or community members,” said Health and Wellness Minister Michelle Thompson. “Fixing healthcare includes improving cancer screening and care. The Lung Screening Program is the latest of many changes across our cancer care services that will help prevent or find cancers earlier, improve outcomes and save lives.”

Nova Scotians aged 50 to 74 who have smoked daily for 20 years or more at any point in their lives can contact the program and have a nurse assess their personal risk of lung cancer. The assessment will determine if they would benefit from screening with a chest CT scan.

People who call the program will receive information about lung health and, if applicable, smoking cessation supports.

The Lung Screening Program is available now in the central health zone (Halifax Regional Municipality and West Hants) by calling 1-833-505-LUNG (5864). It will be rolled out across the province over the next two years.

Other recent cancer care improvements include:
– more funding for community oncology clinics, helping more people get the care they need closer to home
– better communication among oncology providers and patients, improving care, shortening wait times and achieving better results
– a first-in-the-world Ethos radiotherapy system with HyperSight imaging, decreasing the average number of treatments to five from 20
– a new 10-year partnership with Varian that will make Nova Scotians among the first in the world to access new oncology technology and innovative programs.

“Lung cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in Nova Scotia and the leading cause of cancer death. Many people are diagnosed at a late stage when treatments improve quality of life and give people more time, but lung cancer at this point is not curable. The Lung Screening Program will help change the face of lung cancer in this province and transform the conversation from lung cancer to lung health.”
— Dr. Helmut Hollenhorst, Senior Medical Director, Nova Scotia Health Cancer Care Program

“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.”
— Dr. Daria Manos, radiologist and Medical Director, Nova Scotia Health Lung Screening Program

“The Canadian Partnership Against Cancer congratulates Nova Scotia for implementing a provincewide lung cancer screening program and promoting smoking cessation services. Screening people who are at high risk for lung cancer will help find lung cancer early and save lives. Lung cancer screening is a priority initiative in the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control, and the partnership will continue to work with partners to ensure equitable access to care and improve cancer outcomes for all people in Canada.”
— Dr. Craig Earle, CEO, Canadian Partnership Against Cancer

Quick Facts:

  • the government will invest about $3 million annually in the Lung Screening Program once fully implemented across the province
  • lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in Nova Scotia; every year, about 1,000 Nova Scotians are diagnosed and 700 die of the disease
  • Nova Scotia also has screening programs for colon, cervical and breast cancers
  • the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer has contributed $350,000 to the Lung Screening Program and committed nearly $1 million over the next three years to help develop equity enhancing strategies to reach diverse and vulnerable populations

Additional Resources:

Lung Screening Program website:

News release – Nova Scotia to Advance Cancer Care Research, Treatment:

News release (Nova Scotia Health) – Nova Scotia Health and Varian continue to advance cancer care in Nova Scotia:

News release (Nova Scotia Health) – Nova Scotia Health launches first-in-Canada technology that brings together oncology information in real time:

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