Spalding area Doctor Kevin Hill raises awareness of Lung Cancer Awareness Month
As we approach the end of Lung Cancer Awareness Month, NHS Lincolnshire East Clinical Commissioning Group is using November, to remind people to tell their doctor if they have had a cough for three weeks or more.
Whilst coughs seem to be common at this time of year, a persistent cough that lasts longer than three weeks could be a sign of something more serious.
In the vast majority of cases the underlying condition will not be serious but in some cases it could be a sign of lung cancer.
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Nationally around three quarters of those diagnosed are found to have the condition when it is already in the advanced stages and much harder to treat. Many don’t live for more than a year after receiving their diagnosis.
Evidence shows that people who are diagnosed with lung cancer in its early stages are more likely to respond well to treatment and live longer.
There are usually no signs or symptoms in the early stages but those with lung cancer will eventually develop symptoms including:
l persistent cough;
l persistent chest infections;
l coughing up blood;
l an ache or pain when breathing or coughing;
l persistent breathlessness;
l unexplained tiredness and weight loss.
Lung cancer is one of the most common and serious types of cancer in the UK. This is why it’s hugely important for people to be aware of the symptoms and that they visit their GP as soon as they notice something is wrong.
Like all cancers early diagnosis is vital and improves the chance of survival significantly.
When lung cancer is diagnosed in its early stages, there are more treatment options and treatment is likely to be more successful.
Lung cancer mainly affects older people. It is rare in people younger than 40, but the rates of lung cancer rise sharply with age. Lung cancer is most commonly diagnosed in people aged 70-74 years.
Although people who have never smoked can develop lung cancer, smoking is the main cause (about 90 per cent of cases). This is because smoking involves regularly inhaling a number of different toxic substances.
There are a number of ways to reduce your risk of cancer:
l Stop smoking. It’s never too late to stop smoking. There’s plenty of support and help available from the NHS. Visit smokefree.nhs.uk or call 0800 169 0169.
l Keep active. Swimming, cycling – the more you can do, the better. Even walking to your local shops instead of taking the car can make a difference.
l Eat healthily. Try to get your 5-a-day. So eat more vegetables and fruit, fish, and wholegrain foods. Eat less fatty foods like cakes and pastries and fewer processed meats like bacon and ham. It’s also a good idea to reduce your alcohol intake.