Monday , April 12 2021

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North Science Research Seeks More Participants for Early Lung Cancer Pilot Program.

Last year the hospital in Sudbury, in partnership with Cancer Care Ontario, launched a screening program for lung cancer for high risk people.

HSN was one of the three Ontario hospitals who participated together with Lakeridge Health in Oshawi and the Ottawa hospital.

The idea for the pilot program came from a large trial in the United States, which has determined that low-dose CT scans, which run on people of certain age and smoking history, can help identify whether there are anomalies that could lead to lung cancer.

Dr. Amanda Hey, regional primary care for the Northeastern Cancer Center, says it is important to have such a program, especially in our region.

"In the northeast, we have higher lung cancer rates than the rest of Ontario and a poor five-year survival rate for lung cancer," she says.

"That's partly because we have higher smoking rates in northeastern Ontario than the rest of the province."

Hey says when the opportunity to prove that the test was tested on a pilot ground, the Sudbury hospital was on the verge of opportunity.

The pilot program intends to see how best to develop the steps for the cancer screening program in Ontario.

Early detection can lead to death reduction

When the pilot started last year, Hey says there was more interest from potential participants than the program had the ability to handle. This meant longer waiting times for patients.

He adds that in 2018, the program gained additional ability to take more patients with low-dose CT scans.

"We've got a greater ability to double the number of places with low dose CT doses so now we just want to say we have more seats and shorter waiting times," says Hey.

Dr. Amanda Hey is the Head of Regional Primary Care for the Northeastern Cancer Center. He says evidence from the United States has shown that early detection of lung cancer can lead to a 20 percent drop in death. (Kirthana Sasitharan / CBC)

Evidence found at trial suggests that lung cancer mortality may be reduced by 20 percent through early detection.

Hey says this is especially important because patients who have lung cancer often do not have a long survival rate.

"Most cases of lung cancer are diagnosed in the late phase, where it has already been extended to other organs," says Hey.

"So now we have very low survival rates for lung cancer."

He adds the explanation behind the examination is to find lung cancer earlier, so the patient can be treated.

"No more speculation"

Marcel Gravel participated in the pilot.

He says he was glad he did what he was able to find. After his physician sent him to the pilot, the screening revealed nodules on the lungs.

"It really was awakening for me."

"We moved on to taking the biopsy and checked that luckily, [the nodules were] benign. I was one of the lucky ones, "says Gravel.

It comes from a large family of smokers, most of whom say that they stopped smoking. The gravel says he lost his mother's liver cancer.

As he smokes, Gravel says there was always an afterthought about what might happen to him.

"If you've been smoking and smoking for as long as you did, there is always something on the back of your mind, there is always the possibility that something can come back to persecute you while you are old," says Gravel.

Marcel Gravel participated in a pilot program of lung cancer screening at Health Sciences North. The probe found benign nodules on the lungs through early detection. (Kirthana Sasitharan / CBC)

When the opportunity came to be a part of the pilot, Gravel says he is involved in helping him understand if there are any problems. He also adds that he did not know what the procedure was to detect lung cancer before joining the project.

"I came to find out that CT was far, far, superior, much faster, more effective, and the results were far more stable, no more speculation," he says.

"I think that's a big, big step forward."

Participants who are interested in participating in the program and between 55 and 74 years of smoking history can contact Health Sciences North.


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