November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month

The Partnership highlights National Conference on Tobacco or Health

Paola Nasute, Radiologist, National Lung Screening TrialLung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in Canada, with an estimated 20,600 Canadians expected to die from the disease in 2011.[1] Lung cancer has a poor survival rate. Even though Canada has one of the highest relative survival rates among similar countries, fewer than 20% of people diagnosed with lung cancer survive over 5 years.  Relative survival rate measure the likelihood of a cancer patient surviving for 5 years compared with the likelihood of survival for the general population.[2]

It is well established that tobacco use accounts for the majority of all cases of lung cancer[3] and as November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, the Partnership is highlighting the 7th National Conference on Tobacco or Health. With a theme of “Making the Connection: Knowledge Transforming Health”, the conference brought together professionals working in tobacco control to share knowledge and to collaborate on exploring how tobacco control interventions can be applied to other areas of chronic disease prevention. The meeting was held earlier this month in Toronto.

The Partnership’s Deb Keen, Director of Primary Prevention, chaired a panel discussion entitled “Lessons Learned from Tobacco Control: Critical Success Factors”. During this session, presenters shared how successful tobacco control strategies have resulted in policies that will help to create a healthier environment for people to live. Some examples included the introduction of new packages that highlight tobacco-related diseases and testimonials, and policies that reduce smoking in public places. Participants also discussed the importance of connecting these lessons to other areas of chronic disease prevention.

“The National Conference on Tobacco or Health provided a great opportunity to learn from experts across the country,” Keen said. “Participants shared successes, including how implementing policies that reduce exposure to second-hand smoke, encourage people to stop smoking and others from starting, have led to reduced smoking rates. They also discussed how we can apply these learnings to other areas of chronic disease prevention, including healthy diets and increased physical activity.”

The Partnership is also involved in the following lung cancer-related activities:

  • The Partnership is sponsoring two pan-Canadian forums to allow Canadian cancer control leaders and policymakers to work together in developing an informed approach to addressing emerging issues in lung cancer screening. Through these forums, health professionals will meet to discuss the newest evidence in lung cancer screening and practical implications for the health-care system.  The first meeting will be held this month in Toronto and the second will be scheduled in early 2012.
  • The Partnership has produced Lung Cancer in Canada: A Supplemental System Performance Report as part of the Quality and Standards System Performance Initiative, the first-ever comprehensive, pan-Canadian approach to reporting on needs and performance across the cancer system.
  • The Pan-Canadian Early Lung Cancer Detection Study, a collaboration between the Partnership and the Terry Fox Research Institute, evaluates the effectiveness of using questionnaires, breathing and blood tests to identify high-risk individuals. By using these tests to triage these individuals, the hope is to help identify those who could be recommended for further follow up, should screening be found to be effective.
  • The Coalitions Linking Action and Science for Prevention (CLASP) initiative brings together more than 60 organizations to collaborate on distinct projects that tackle different disease prevention priorities, including tobacco use.
  • Developed collaboratively by a team of Statistics Canada specialists, Canadian cancer leaders and software experts, the Cancer Risk Management Model uses computer simulations to project how key cancer control initiatives could play out in practice. The launch of the lung screening module is planned for this fall.
  • The Partnership’s Prevention Policies Directory is a searchable database that houses Canadian policies and legal instruments (legislation, regulations and codes) relating to key modifiable risk factors for cancer and related chronic diseases, including tobacco consumption. To date, there are almost 400 tobacco policies across Canada which can be easily accessed from the directory.

More information on this year’s National Conference on Tobacco or Health


[1] Canadian Cancer Society 2011 Cancer Statistics.

[2] Canadian Cancer Society Cancer Glossary.

[3] Health Canada. Cancer Updates: Lung Cancer in Canada. Ottawa: 1998.