NHS roadshow to act on early lung cancer symptoms

Wednesday 22nd November 2023 06:12 EST

The NHS will visit thousands of people in England’s lung cancer hotspots with giant inflatable lungs this month, to raise awareness of potential cancer symptoms and help catch cancer earlier.

The Let’s Talk Lung Cancer roadshow, run between NHS England and Roy Castle Lung Foundation, kicks off as new survey data reveals that just a third of (33%) South Asians respondents would see their GP if they had a cough for three weeks or more. While more than a quarter (28%) of South Asian individuals surveyed believe that lung cancer only affects smokers.

Over half (55%) of South Asian survey respondents also believed that or were unsure whether lung cancer only affects a small amount of people every year in England, when in fact it’s the leading cause of cancer deaths in the UK. 

Nasim is 65 years old and recovering from lung cancer following removal of part of her left lung. She initially went to see her GP as she was losing weight and didn’t know why.

‘I have never smoked, so I didn’t ever think it could be lung cancer. However, when my friends and family started pointing out that I was looking thin I thought I should get checked out.’ 

Diagnosing lung cancer early dramatically increases people’s chances of survival – those diagnosed at stages one or two are nearly 20 times more likely to survive for five years or more than those whose cancer is caught at later stages.

She said:‘If you’ve had a cough for three weeks or more, or something feels not quite right, please get medical advice and give yourself the best chance.’

As part of the roadshow, specialist teams of volunteers will assist the campaign to educate the public and help catch more cancers early.

This comes as survey data also shows that just over a third (34%) of South Asian people surveyed would visit their GP if they had a chest infection that kept coming back, and a similar percentage would do the same if they had a loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss (36%), which are lesser-known signs of lung cancer.

Chief Executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, Paula Chadwick, said: “It is staggering that so many of those surveyed still do not know how prevalent lung cancer is. We believe this stems from a reluctance, even aversion, to talking about lung cancer, and that is largely because of its links to smoking and associated stigma.”

The NHS’s Help Us, Help You lung cancer campaign focuses specifically on raising awareness of the key symptom of lung cancer – a cough that lasts for three weeks or more. 

In addition to the symptom of a cough for three weeks or more, other symptoms of lung cancer include:

  • chest infections that keep coming back
  • coughing up blood
  • a long-standing cough that gets worse
  • an ache or pain when breathing or coughing
  • persistent breathlessness
  • persistent tiredness or lack of energy
  • loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss.

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