Radon Research Series

Lung cancer screening is an essential tool for improving health outcomes, as it enables earlier cancer diagnosis and, therefore, more effective treatment that can substantially prolong life or even be curative.

While historically, this has been available for breast, prostate and colorectal cancers, only recently has the technology, health system funding, approvals, and infrastructure come together to enable lung cancer screening to be piloted in Canada. However, while lung cancer screening programs are being made available in some provinces, only people with a significant history of tobacco use will be eligible, excluding light- and never-smokers based on insufficient evidence of PERSONAL lung cancer risk to warrant inclusion. An outcome from a standard, high radon test is not, at this time, going to confer lung cancer screening eligibility, and this is an acknowledged health (in)equity concern.

New technological approaches to determining lifetime radon exposure are required to establish personal risk; this is being developed by a coalition of cancer researchers across Canada with $5.1M in funding from the Canadian Cancer Society.

Over the next five years, this team will be recruiting thousands of Canadians willing to participate in research to examine tell-tale amounts of radon decay products in their toenails, exploring whether measurements of these signs of radon exposure could be used to meaningfully assess a person’s risk of lung cancer to the point that lung cancer screening is justified.


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