Awareness drive aims to spot signs of lung cancer

Date posted: 28th July 2021

A new lung cancer awareness campaign is urging people in Lancashire and South Cumbria to Do It For Yourself and act if they spot signs of the disease.

Lung cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK, with around 47,000 cases diagnosed every year (accounting for 13% of all cancer cases). Sadly, lung cancer has some of the worst survival rates, due, in part, to it often being diagnosed very late. Nearly half of cases are diagnosed when the disease has spread.

The new campaign hopes to change this and improve survivability by encouraging people, particularly men and women over 50 who are more at risk, to spot the symptoms and urge them to contact their GP surgery to be checked out.

The campaign artwork uses the image of a paintbrush and paint, telling people, ‘Cough For Three Weeks? Don’t Gloss Over It’ and asking people to ‘Do It For Yourself’ and get checked for worrying signs of cancer. Another message says, ‘Not every cough is Covid. It could be a sign of lung cancer.

Lancashire and South Cumbria Cancer Alliance has collaborated with MSD to run the campaign alongside Mesothelioma UK, Lung Cancer Nursing UK and UK Lung Cancer Coalition.

The campaign comes as health professionals step up activity to combat lung cancer across Lancashire and South Cumbria, with lung health checks being offered to eligible people in the age group 55-74.

Letters are due to go out from GPs from during July inviting people from Blackpool to have a lung health check. People from Blackburn with Darwen will be invited in September and it will be rolled out to the rest of Lancashire and South Cumbria at a later date.

Dr Neil Smith, GP and Cancer Lead for Lancashire and South Cumbria 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. Although urgent cancer referrals have largely returned to pre-pandemic levels, in lung cancer they remain lower than expected. The aim of this campaign is to continue a sustained effort to encourage those with potentially worrying symptoms to re-engage with their healthcare professionals and seek the support they need. Early intervention not only improves chances of a better outcome; it also improves patient experience and wellbeing as well as supporting the health system in more effective management of care. We need patients to ‘Do It For Yourself’ and contact their GP practice if they see a change in their health which is concerning.  The main symptoms of lung cancer include a persistent cough or change in usual cough, chest infections that keep coming back; coughing up blood; an ache or pain in the chest or shoulder, becoming breathless; persistent tiredness or lack of energy or loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss. If any of these things happen, patients should get in touch with their GP, even if they don’t smoke. In many cases cancer will not be the cause, but far wiser to get checked out.  The earlier we catch lung cancer; the more successful treatment can be – so please don’t delay. When you call your practice, you may be asked to speak with your GP initially and they may then arrange for you to be seen safely in the surgery.”

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