Health Awareness

Working together to detect lung cancer earlier

Vicki Goodman, vice president, therapeutic area head, oncology late-stage development, reports on encouraging progress in lung cancer screening around the world

June 16, 2021

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doctors point the lung scan image

I’ve seen great progress made against lung cancer in the past two decades of my career advancing cancer research. Yet lung cancer remains the deadliest cancer worldwide, accounting for nearly 1-in-5 cancer-related deaths.

When lung cancer is detected early, there is a greater chance of survival. We must focus on screenings to improve the rates of early diagnosis.

Benefits of screening

Data show that routine screenings for people at high risk for lung cancer can save lives. In 2019, a Dutch-Belgian trial found that among current and former smokers in Europe, the use of low-dose CT scans, a common type of lung cancer screening test, reduced mortality rates after 10 years of screening. 

Global action

Based on the growing body of evidence linking screening to improved survival, many countries are prioritizing lung cancer initiatives and making progress in establishing formal screening programs:

New Zealand map

New Zealand: In 2021, the first trial of lung cancer screening in New Zealand began. The trial, a collaborative effort between the University of Otago and Waitematā District Health Board, in collaboration with Auckland District Health Board, screens up to 500 Māori people at high risk of lung cancer, aged between 55 and 74 years.

UK map

United Kingdom: The National Health Service started offering targeted lung health checks in 2019 in regions with the highest lung cancer mortality rates. And in 2020, the UK National Screening Committee began evaluating policy recommendations for a national screening program.

Australia map

Australia: In 2019, the Minister of Health initiated an enquiry on the prospects, implementation and delivery of a national lung cancer screening program. The resulting report proposed a four-year nationwide lung cancer screening program to start in 2021. The program focuses on equity, prioritizing the need to reach certain at-risk populations, such as smokers, as well as those living in rural and remote areas.

Canada map

Various jurisdictions are working to implement regional lung cancer screening programs. In 2020, British Columbia became the first jurisdiction to implement a full-scale organized lung cancer screening program, targeting adults ages 55-74 who smoke or have a heavy smoking history.

We can help

As lung cancer screening programs expand around the world, we can all do our part to improve screening rates by encouraging people who are at high risk of the disease to get screened if they’re eligible. 

By supporting one another and standing together, we will continue to drive advances against lung cancer.

International Agency for Research on Cancer 2020: Global Cancer Observatory. Lung Cancer Fact Sheet. Global Cancer Observatory. Lung Cancer Fact Sheet. Accessed on 17/12/20 Accessed on 17/12/20
Cancer Australia 2021: Lung Cancer Screening Available at: Accessed on 08/09/21
National Health Service (NHS) 2019: The NHS Long Term Plan Available at: Accessed on 08/09/21
BC Cancer 2020: B.C. launches lung cancer screening program – the first in Canada. Available at: Accessed on 08/09/21

New England Journal of Medicine 2020: Reduced Lung-Cancer Mortality with Volume CT Screening in a Randomized Trial. Available at: Access on 21/10/2021
The Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) 2020: Optimising lung cancer screening for Māori: comparing invitation processes Available at: Access on 21/10/2021
Auckland District Health Board: A welcome boost to Māori-led lung cancer screening programme Available at: Accessed on 26/10/21

TAPS NZ 13280 NZ-NON-00178 Last Updated October 2021