Norma Henn

Norma HennNorma Henn became the 1,000th volunteer tested in the Early Lung Cancer Screening study in early December at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, which strives to improve early detection of lung cancer and survival rates.

“The actual CT scan takes a minute but knowing the results and the relief I now feel will last a lot longer,” says Norma, who lives in Belleville.

The early screening program, funded by the Lusi Wong Lung Cancer Early Detection Research Fund through The Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation, is helping to detect early lung cancer.  Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in Canada but when detected early, the cure rate is between 70% - 80%.

“With this funding we’ve developed the first screening program in Canada and are able to detect and diagnose lung cancer for treatment in its early stages,” says Dr. Heidi Roberts, Principal Investigator, Associate Professor of Radiology in the Department of Medical Imaging, University Health Network. The study was launched in September 2003.

The Early Lung Cancer Screening program accepts and examines male and female volunteers who are current or former smokers aged 50 and older, who are in good general health, have no previous cancers and have smoked an equivalent of at least one package of cigarettes a day for 10 years. Study participants do not need a referral from their doctor.

“I heard about the Early Lung Cancer Screening study from a friend of the family and it’s definitely a program I’ve spread the word about with my own friends and family,” says Norma.

“Not only is this an excellent program but everyone in the program has been very kind and caring throughout the whole process and especially with calming my nerves.

”Most volunteers that enter the study have normal lungs and return for an annual scan. About one in five will be checked sooner based on indeterminate findings and then continue with an annual scan. The screening detected that two out of every 100 volunteers had a “completely silent “lung cancer in early stages, which was then treated.

UHN’s Princess Margaret Hospital is the only Canadian member among 28 other institutes participating in the International Early Lung Cancer Action Program. The goal of the ongoing collaborative study is to improve the cure rate for lung cancer through organized and integrated shared knowledge, innovative solutions and clinical insights.
  Reviewed: October 2013