Lung cancer screening in Canada: 2021/2022

About this section

Opportunistic screening takes place outside of an organized screening program, and people are often screened in a way that does not adhere to screening guidelines. This type of screening may not provide benefit and puts an increased demand on the healthcare system. In contrast, organized screening provides the opportunity to ensure the appropriate use of constrained radiology resources. This is important since lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canada, and kills more people in Canada than colon, breast, and prostate cancer combined. Low dose computed tomography (LDCT) is a quick and non-invasive way to screen for lung cancer and can catch the disease earlier, which can lead to improved treatment outcomes. Learn more about the importance of organized screening programs and LDCT.

This section describes opportunistic lung screening in Canada.

Opportunistic lung cancer screening

LDCT scans are ordered opportunistically in seven provinces and two territories.

In most jurisdictions, physicians and primary care practitioners order the LDCT scans. The scans usually take place in hospitals, but can also take place in private clinics, public clinics, and health centers. No jurisdiction has a mechanism to measure the amount of opportunistic screening taking place.

patient receiving a low dose computed tomography scan

Opportunistic lung screening in Canada

Province/Territory Are LDCT scans being ordered? Who is ordering LDCT scans? Where is LDCT taking place?
YT Physicians Hospitals
NU ✓* Physicians Hospitals
BC Physicians Private clinics, hospitals
AB Primary care practitioners Private clinics, public clinics
MB Primary care practitioners Hospitals, health centres
ON Physicians Hospitals
QC Physicians, Primary care practitioners Hospitals
NL Hospitals

NU: *MD and NPs can order LDCT in Territory. The Qikigtani General Hospital provides this service however they have reported a low volume. The QGH DI division provides services to individuals in the Baffin region. At this time, we do not have information on ordering LDCT out of territory.