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This Lung Cancer Awareness Month (November 2020), residents are urged not to delay contacting their GP about lung cancer symptoms

3rd November 2020

People in Lancashire and South Cumbria are being urged to contact their GP if they have any signs or symptoms of lung cancer.

The NHS is committed to providing essential cancer services during the covid-19 pandemic. At the beginning of the outbreak, there was a sharp drop in the number of patients referred for investigations and appointments for suspected cancer. This has improved for most types of cancer, as more people are talking to their GPs about their concerns. However, for lung cancer locally, currently less than 7 in 10 of the expected numbers of patients are contacting their GPs and being referred to hospital. Some patients are being diagnosed in A&E when they are unwell with advanced disease. If this continues more people will be diagnosed later, resulting in a lower chance of survival. Finding and treating lung cancer at an early stage can save lives.

Urgent care and treatment is still available to help Lancashire and South Cumbria residents, don’t risk your long-term health by delaying getting the help you need. NHS services are following strict social distancing and hygiene measures to allow people to access care safely. Hospitals are safe and are continuing to provide care for non-covid patients. GPs, pharmacies, NHS 111 and hospitals in the area are still open for those who need them.

Dr Neil Smith, local GP and Primary Care Director for the Lancashire and South Cumbria Cancer Alliance, said:

“It is a difficult time for patients and GPs to assess and deal with respiratory symptoms. The national message is if you have a cough, stay at home and isolate yourself. However not all coughing or breathing difficulty is caused by covid-19. If someone has a cough or breathlessness that has gone on for three weeks, there is a risk of lung cancer. This is especially so for someone with who is a smoker or has symptoms like coughing blood or losing weight.”

Cancer assessment and treatments are still happening. New innovations such as video consultation, reviewing photographs of skin lesions and arranging urgent tests are helping the recovery process. Novel solutions such as specialised surgical hubs are being utilised to ensure patients receive safe and timely operations for cancer.  

Dr Smith said:

“The NHS is still here for you. GPs can arrange chest x-rays if they think someone may have lung cancer. Early diagnosis of cancer saves lives. It is essential that people continue to talk about their concerns about cancer. If you have persistent or worrying symptoms, please contact your doctor. Let’s talk cancer.”

If you need medical help from your GP practice, contact them online, by an app or by phone to be assessed. If you need urgent medical help, use the NHS 111 online service. If you cannot get help online, call 111. If it’s a serious or life-threatening emergency, call 999. If you are told to go to hospital it is important that you go. You should continue to attend your appointments, unless you have been told not to.

More about lung cancer

  • Lung cancer is the third most common cancer in the country, with nearly 50,000 new cases in the UK each year.
  • It is more common in people living in the most deprived areas and increases as people get older.
  • More men are diagnosed with lung cancer than women.
  • Around three-quarters of lung cancer cases are diagnosed at a late stage.
  • Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in the UK, accounting for 21% of all cancer deaths.

Online advice about cancer signs and symptoms

Watch Dr Neil Smith's video

Video Transcript

NEIL SMITH:

Hello, my name is Neil Smith, I'm a GP. I work for Cancer Research UK and I've got a passion for early diagnosis of cancer. I'm getting increasingly worried about late diagnosis of lung cancer.

I've noticed that some of my patients are not coming forward. I understand it's a difficult time and there is a national message that if you've got any cough, you should stay at home. But I'd like to remind people if that cough is persistent, for example is lasting for three weeks, if you're coughing up blood or you've got any other new worrying symptom, particularly significant weight loss, still contact your GP.

The NHS is open, people like myself, GPs can assess you - we've got access to chest x-rays. So now more than ever it's important to talk about cancer, early diagnosis really does save lives, so let's talk cancer.