Innovative lung cancer screening pilot program to launch at VGH
August 26, 2015 – Thanks to a $1.2-million-dollar gift from philanthropists Jason and Emily Ko, founders of Viva Pharmaceutical Inc., an innovative and potentially life saving lung cancer screening pilot program is launching at VGH.
More than 1.6 million people die from lung cancer each year, making it the most deadly cancer worldwide. In BC alone, an estimated 3,150 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed and it will be responsible for 2,500 deaths.
The VGH Early Lung Cancer Screening Pilot Program will take its lead from a 2011 study at the US National Cancer Institute that showed a low-dose CT scan helps diagnose lung cancer at an earlier stage and can reduce lung cancer mortality by up to 20%.
“Similar to other cancers like prostate, breast and colorectal, early detection can mean the difference between a treatable disease or palliative care,” explains VGH respirologist, Dr. Stephen Lam, a renowned lung cancer specialist.
“The five-year survival for patients with lung cancer is less than 18% because most cases are diagnosed at a very late stage and the cancer has already spread throughout the body.”
The pilot program, drawing on the expertise of respiratory medicine, thoracic surgery and radiology, will pioneer a new model for lung cancer screening for British Columbians. It is the first large scale demonstration project of its kind in North America.
For Jason Ko, a successful business leader from Taiwan, this issue hits close to home. Lung cancer in people who have never smoked is especially prominent in Asian countries. In Taiwan, lung cancer mortality is highest in the world.
“Lung cancer is a cause that is very close to my heart,” says Ko. “Many of my friends, who were non-smokers, have been impacted by lung cancer. I wanted to give a gift that will impact people all over the world. My family and everyone at Viva Pharmaceuticals deeply believe in the philosophy of giving.”
Launching in 2016, the program’s goal is to enroll 2,000 high risk individuals over three years with a two-year follow-up thereafter. It is anticipated that results at the end of five years will drive the development of a province-wide program. In addition, learnings from the pilot will be disseminated to medical communities across the country, transforming early lung cancer detection across the globe.
“We are very grateful to Jason and Emily Ko and Viva Pharmaceutical, who have made this program possible at VGH,” says Angela Chapman, Senior VP of Philanthropy at VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation. “Our goal is to raise funds to support VCH’s vision of delivering innovative, transformational and sustainable healthcare and this program helps us achieve that.
To enroll in the program, patients can call 604-675-8088.
Director, Marketing and Communications
VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation
604 875 5196 C. 778 952 6147