Study Overview

Screening of Alberta Asbestos Exposed Workers for Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma

This research study, sponsored by the Alberta Cancer Foundation and the Western Canada Mesothelioma Foundation, is being conducted across Alberta. We aim to offer chest CT scan screening for lung cancer and mesothelioma for individuals who have been exposed to asbestos.

The screening scans can be performed in Calgary, Edmonton or Fort McMurray. 

To take part in this study, you should be between the ages of 50 and 80 years and you have been exposed to asbestos at least 10 years ago.

Taking part in this study is voluntary.

Participation in this study is not a replacement for medical care. If you have concerns about any new symptoms, please see your primary care physician.

To see if you are eligible to participate in this study, click this link to take an online assessment

Lung cancer and Mesothelioma

Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in Canada. Unfortunately, the majority of the patients are diagnosed too late when they present with symptoms and the cancer has already spread. We now know that screening high risk individuals with CT scans can reduce deaths from this disease.

Cigarette smoking is the most important risk factor in the development of lung cancer. Exposure to asbestos is another risk for lung cancer, and the risk is particularly high in smokers who have also been exposed to asbestos.

People exposed to asbestos are also at risk of a rare cancer of the lining of the lung called mesothelioma, which like lung cancer has a high mortality rate. While this also could be detected by a CT scan, we do not know if such screening can reduce deaths from this disease.

What do we hope to learn?

The general aim of this study is to offer a screening program for lung cancer and mesothelioma in a research environment to individuals exposed to asbestos.

We hope to learn and better understand the needs of asbestos exposed individuals when it comes to screening for cancer. We also hope to learn about the impact of the screening program on their well-being. We also want to test a cancer risk calculator which has been modified to account for asbestos exposure. Finally, we wish to see how the proposed screening program performs in terms of number of cancers found, their stage and if any cancers are missed by the screening tests.

What is involved in this study?

Before you are registered to be in the study, you will be asked about your age and history of exposure to asbestos to determine your eligibility for the study. If you qualify and you are interested in participating in this study, you will be asked to sign a consent form.

You will then be asked to complete questionnaires regarding your health status, tobacco use and motivation to get screened. You will be invited on a separate day to have a CT scan of your chest performed. If you are at higher risk of lung cancer, the CT scan will be repeated after one year and once again after 2 years. If your lung cancer risk is low, only one CT will be performed unless abnormalities are detected which require additional scans.

If you currently smoke, you will receive advice regarding smoking cessation to reduce the risk of lung cancer and other smoking related diseases. Two hundred people across the province will take part in this study.

Depending on your lung cancer risk, you will be in the study for up to 2 years. There is no follow-up planned after 2 years unless there are abnormalities in your CT scan that require longer follow-up. 

You should not participate in this study if you:

  • Have been diagnosed with lung cancer or mesothelioma before
  • Have had other cancer in the past 5 years (except for non-melanoma skin cancer, localized prostate cancer, carcinoma in situ of the cervix or superficial bladder cancer with your last treatment more than 6 months before registration into this study)
  • Have had a solid organ transplant
  • Are using any home oxygen
  • Have other serious illnesses that are not well controlled, such as infection, heart problems or stroke
  • Are pregnant
  • Have had a chest CT scan within the last 2 years
  • Do not live in Alberta or do not have an Alberta Health Care Number