(Premier John Horgan/BC Gov Flickr)

BC announced on Monday that it will be developing an advanced lung cancer screening program that is the first of its kind in Canada.

The program is intended to provide early detection in patients by screening adults aged 55 to 75 who smoke or have a heavy smoking history.

The government says they anticipate that participants will begin receiving scans by spring 2022.

Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in Canada and worldwide. The province says that six British Columbians die of lung cancer each day.

“Right now, 70 per cent of all lung cancers are diagnosed in advanced stages,” said Premier John Horgan at a press conference on Monday.

“Once it’s up and running, clinics will see up to 20,000 patients a year.”

Dr. Kim Chi, vice-president and chief medical officer for BC Cancer, said that early detection of cancer is key to lowering mortality rates.

“By introducing lung cancer screening in British Columbia and linking these efforts with prevention by smoking cessation programs, we can decrease mortality, increase the chance of cure, and improve survival from lung cancer.”

With wildfire smoke plunging air quality in the lower mainland and Vancouver Island into prolonged high risk levels, Dr. Chi also confirmed on Monday that we could see increased rates of cancer from extreme weather.

“Air quality, air pollution have been related to cancers including lung cancers as well as other pulmonary ailments,” said Dr. Chi.

“As global warming and global climate changes occur, these will be problems for the future.”