Other symptoms include: repeated chest infections, coughing up blood and breathlessness.
Lung cancer is currently England’s biggest cancer killer, causing around 28,000 deaths each year and with around 33,800 people diagnosed. Those diagnosed at the earliest stage are five times more likely to survive lung cancer for at least five years than those diagnosed at a late stage.
Lung cancer affects people of all ages and races but is most common in those who are over 50. Smoking is a major risk factor for lung cancer but around one in eight people with lung cancer has never smoked. The risk of lung cancer gets worse as you get older, but finding it early improves the chances of successful treatment.
Professor Kevin Fenton, Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England, said:
“More needs to be done to raise awareness of the signs of lung cancer and overcome the fears preventing people presenting early to their doctors so that we can save more lives across all communities.
“Only by increasing awareness of potential symptoms, and encouraging people to visit their doctor sooner rather than later, will we see the number of early diagnoses, and people surviving the disease, start to rise.”
The Be Clear on Cancer lung cancer campaign is aimed at men and women over the age of 50, as they are most at risk. Worryingly, almost a fifth (19 per cent) of this group admits they have not visited their doctor in the past when they have had a persistent cough. The majority thought their cough would clear up on its own.
Dr Pawan Randev, GP Lead Cancer Commissioning Team – North West and South, said
“Many people believe if you have lung cancer it’s the end. In my experience it doesn’t have to be this way. Lung cancer can be treated and you can have a good quality of life afterwards.
“But it’s important for people to be aware of the symptoms of lung cancer – if you have a cough that lasts over three weeks then go to see your doctor. It’s very straightforward for your doctor to examine you and determine whether to send you for a chest X-ray. The process is simple and if your doctor suspects it might be cancer you will see a specialist within two weeks. Early diagnosis means you have a better chance of survival.”
The Be Clear on Cancer campaign will see adverts – featuring real GPs – on mainstream TV, print and radio from today until mid-August. There will also be activity tailored to black and Asian communities on specialist TV, print and radio running simultaneously. Face-to-face events will also take place in a number of shopping centres.