National Non-Smoking Week – January 18-24

Posted on Tuesday January 21, 2020

What better time to quit smoking or to support someone to quit than National Non-Smoking Week. Did you know that lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canada (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers)?

In 2019, it was estimated that:

  • 29,300 Canadians were diagnosed with lung cancer.
  • 21,000 Canadians died from lung cancer.
  • 80 Canadians were diagnosed with lung cancer every day.
  • 58 Canadians died from lung cancer every day.
  • About 1 in 14 Canadian men and 1 in 15 Canadian women will develop lung cancer during their lifetime.*

Lakeridge Health is one of only four hospitals in the province that offers lung cancer care including screening, diagnosis, treatment and clinical trials.

Common lung cancer symptoms include a cough that doesn't go away and gets worse over time, constant chest pain, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, wheezing, or hoarseness and repeated problems with pneumonia or bronchitis.

While most cancers are the result of many risk factors, many people who get lung cancer have smoked or been around second-hand smoke. Smoking tobacco is the most important risk factor for lung cancer. Up to 85 per cent of lung cancers are caused by smoking cigarettes. Other things that may cause lung cancer are environmental factors such as exposure to radon (radioactive gas found naturally in soil and rocks), asbestos, air pollution, occupational exposure to certain chemicals, personal or family history of lung cancer, exposure to radiation and a weakened immune system.

The R.S. McLaughlin Durham Regional Cancer Centre (DRCC) has been partnering with Cancer Care Ontario since 2017 to pilot an organized lung cancer screening program.** Patients between the age of 55 and 74 who have smoked cigarettes daily for a minimum of 20 years (current or past smokers) may be eligible for lung cancer screening through the High Risk Lung Cancer Screening Pilot. To find out if you are eligible for screening, call 905-576-8711 x34449.

“Early diagnosis of lung cancer is key to successful treatment. Just like screening for other cancers, we are now working toward using screening to detect lung cancer at an early stage, using low dose CAT scans,” says Dr. John Dickie, Lakeridge Health’s Chief of Surgery and Division Chief of Thoracic Surgery. “If concerns arise, diagnosis occurs through our Diagnostic Assessment Program (DAP), a regional program with clinics in the Durham Regional Cancer Centre, Peterborough Regional Health Centre and Scarborough Health Network.”

Adds Dr. Dickie, “Patients with a suspicion of lung cancer are referred to the DAP where they receive the support of a nurse navigator along with a thoracic surgeon or respirologist to confirm or rule out lung cancer.”

The risk of developing lung cancer increases with age. More than half of all newly diagnosed lung cancer cases occur amongst smokers aged 60 years or older. Men develop lung cancer slightly more often than women.

When lung cancer is found and treated early, the chances of successful treatment are better.

“We encourage smokers to speak to their family doctors or nurse practitioners about lung cancer screening,” says Dr. Dickie. “Through screening and the highest quality cancer care, we are determined to improve outcomes in people with lung cancer.”

Looking to quit smoking?

There are a number of helpful resources to support people who are looking to quit smoking:

  • Contact Telehealth Ontario, 1-866-797-0000
  • Speak with your family physician

* For information and statistics on lung cancer, visit Cancer Care Ontario’s website: www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/lung/lung-cancer/?region=on 

** For more information on the DRCC’s High Risk Lung Cancer Screening pilot, visit www.HRLung.ca