CancerCare Manitoba
News Item

November 7, 2013

Health Minister Calls On Manitobans To Reduce Risk Of Developing Lung Cancer

The province is working with leading Manitoba medical experts to encourage Manitobans to reduce their risk of lung cancer, Health Minister Erin Selby said today.

"November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and we want everyone to take steps to reduce their risk," said the minister. "It's never too late to stop smoking or to talk to your loved ones about the dangers of smoking. Working together, we can all be healthier."

Statistics show Manitoba lung cancer rates are in line with other provinces, however, lung cancer survival rates are the best in the country.

For the last two decades, the mortality rate for Manitoba men with lung cancer has typically been higher than women. However, while the lung cancer mortality rate for men has been decreasing at a rate of one per cent per year, the rate for women has been increasing by two per cent per year.

"While there are several known risk factors for lung cancer, including radon exposure, asbestos exposure and air pollution, tobacco remains the leading cause of lung cancer," said Dr. Michael Routledge, chief provincial public health officer. "The good news is that Manitobans can take steps to reduce their risk and maintain good health."

Smoking contributes to the vast majority of lung cancer deaths. Manitoba has implemented several legislative and taxation policies to curb smoking including legislation introduced in 2010 that prohibits smoking in vehicles when children are present. Exposure to other lung cancer risks, such as radon or asbestos, can also increase the risk of lung cancer.

Manitobans can reduce the risk of lung cancer by:
  • quitting smoking and eliminating exposure to second-hand smoke;
  • testing homes for radon and reducing levels if they are high;
  • using appropriate safety precautions when asbestos might be present; and
  • not contributing to air pollution by taking the bus, car-pooling or avoiding idling cars.

"Quitting smoking at any age helps, but the earlier you quit, the greater the benefit," said Dr. Dhali Dhaliwal, president and CEO, CancerCare Manitoba. "However, we know how incredibly difficult it is to quit. To achieve the goal of becoming a non-smoker, we introduced a free, comprehensive clinical service for our patients, as well as their family members, to provide guidance and counseling so they are supported every step of the way."

For more information on quitting smoking, Manitobans can call the Smokers' Help Line at 18775135333 (toll-free) or visit the website at

More information on the health effects of second-hand smoke and ways to prevent exposure is available at Health Canada's website at or the Center for Disease Control's website at:

Radon is a gas found naturally in the soil and it can enter homes. Exposure to high levels of radon over long periods of time can increase the risk of developing lung cancer, especially when combined with smoking. Information on testing and remediating a home for radon is available on the province's website at or Health Canada's website at

Asbestos exposure can also cause lung cancer if fibres are inhaled. Properly enclosed asbestos is not a concern. Asbestos may be found in many buildings built up until about 1990. More information on reducing exposure to asbestos is available on the province's website at or the Health Canada website at

The World Health Organization has recently designated air pollution as a risk for lung cancer. However, the air quality in Manitoba is considered generally good. The air quality health index measures air pollution in Winnipeg and Brandon. More information is available at

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