NHS Herefordshire is supporting a new national campaign to make people more aware of the key symptoms of lung cancer and improve earlier diagnosis in Herefordshire.
A cough that lasts for three weeks is the focus of the campaign which is also backed by Ricky Gervais and Lyunda Bellingham.
New data reveals that only one in 10 people know that a persistent cough for three weeks or more could be a symptom of lung cancer and if dealt with early could save their life.
Despite the disease killing more people than any other form of cancer in Herefordshire, this symptom fares worse in public awareness compared to knowledge of other cancer signs such as looking out for a lump (breast or testicular cancer) or getting a changed appearance of a mole checked out (skin cancer). As a result, around 80 per cent of patients with lung cancer have fairly advance stage cancer when diagnosed.
Lung cancer affects 33,000 people in England each year with 114 cases reported in Herefordshire in 2009. The majority of cases occur in people over the age of 55. When diagnosed at its earliest stage, as many as 80 per cent of people are alive five years after diagnosis compared with only seven per cent diagnosed at a late stage.
The Be Clear on Cancer national campaign follows successful pilots in the East and West Midlands for five weeks in October and November 2011. In those areas, GPs saw the number of people presenting with the relevant symptoms increase by 23 per cent.
Dr Sarah Aitken, interim director of public health, NHS Herefordshire, said: “With lung cancer claiming around 90 lives in the county every year, it’s important that the public is more aware of the symptoms and, if someone has the key symptoms, they visit their GP straight away.
She added “Lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer in this county. Earlier diagnosis of lung cancer could save many more lives, but worryingly many people don’t know the signs and symptoms.
“If you’ve had a cough for three weeks or more, make an appointment to see your doctor today. It may be nothing serious, but it is better to have it checked out early to be sure.”
The cough for three weeks or more is the main symptom, but other symptoms are:
A cough that has got worse or changes
- Repeated chest infections
- Coughing up blood
- Feeling more tired than usual for some time
- Losing weight for no obvious reason
- An ache or pain in your chest or shoulder that has lasted some time
Carla Preston (01432) 260098