2021 New Year's Message from the President

January 2021
Well, there is no doubt that 2020 was a doozy. Looking back 12 months I’m pretty sure none of us could have predicted the devastation and disruption that was lying ahead of us.
At Lung Cancer Canada our hearts go out to all those who have the disease. Having lung cancer is hard enough, but now many have had to go through the illness isolated, without access to the usual levels of support from family and friends due to the all too familiar restrictions on travel and gatherings.
As we look ahead in 2021 surely things will improve, although at the time of writing case numbers are on the rise in many parts of the country, and jurisdictions are generally moving back into some degree of lockdown. Why will they improve? Because we have learned how to live and manage despite the pandemic. We have learned as a community about how to deliver cancer care effectively despite the pressures on healthcare. And of course, the vaccines are now starting to become available to protect us and allow us to dream of a return to normality.
Should lung cancer patients receive the coronavirus vaccine? In the large majority, this answer is an unequivocal YES. We know cancer patients can be more vulnerable and may be at higher risk of complications if they contract COVID-19. Questions remain about the optimal timing of receiving the vaccine for those actively on treatment, but answers are coming rapidly. If you are offered the vaccine, check with your healthcare team about the best time to accept it.
How can we at Lung Cancer Canada support you this year, and indeed how can you support us?
Our team of volunteers and staff rapidly adapted in 2020 to the virtual world, and in fairness, we were already moving in that direction anyway as part of our aspiration to be relevant and available for lung cancer patients in all provinces and territories.
Support groups, podcasts, webinars, materials on the website, virtual gatherings for the Stakeholder briefing, Evening of Hope, Advocacy campaigns, and more – all of these programs and events can be accessed from the safety of your own home. Look out especially in 2021 for our ‘What’s new in lung cancer?’ webinar series that we recently launched in November 2020.
We are moving forward with supporting more research activities, primarily through the Geoffrey Ogram Memorial Research Grant, and in 2020 we received more donations to support research than ever before.
What is happening in the broader lung cancer world as we continue as an organization to advocate for access to treatment? I think the biggest ‘good news’ of recent months was the announcement by British Columbia that they will launch the first comprehensive lung cancer screening program in 2022. We are looking for other provinces to make their own announcements in 2021. Screening with low-dose CT scans is the single most important initiative to save lives in lung cancer, which unfortunately remains the most common cancer in Canada, and causes by far the most cancer deaths. The high fatality rate is due to the diagnosis of two-thirds of patients at stage 3 or 4. With screening, we can change this to the majority diagnosed at stage 1 or 2.
Access to the newest and most effective drugs for lung cancer is a priority, and with the science marching forwards and identifying more and more targeted agents and immunotherapy options, hopefully, 2021 will see positive news. We are looking specifically at the lung cancer subtypes ROS1, BRAF, and NTRK in hoping to have new treatments available, as well as some novel immunotherapy approaches, and we also seek access to immunotherapy for those who have either small-cell lung cancer or mesothelioma. To my knowledge, we are the only charity that has provided input to advocate for access for EVERY lung cancer drug that has gone through the regulatory process.
Our mission at LCC is to support patients with lung cancer and their families, to raise awareness, to educate, to advocate, and to support research. We will be doing it differently in 2021, but we are ready, and we are working for you.
Thank you for your continued support of our organization, and we hope you will continue to support us in 2021.


Paul Wheatley-Price MD
President of Lung Cancer Canada