Health: Have you been coughing for three weeks?

First published in North of England news

Throughout May and June the Lancashire and South Cumbria Cancer Network is supporting the national Be Clear on Cancer campaign to raise awareness of the symptoms of lung cancer across the region.

The key message is that finding lung cancer early makes it more treatable and it encourages people who have symptoms to go to their doctor straight away.

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in England. There are some 33,000 new cases every year and it kills more men and women than any other form of cancer. It affects people of all ages but is most common in those who are over 50. One in eight people with lung cancer has never smoked but it is more common in smokers and in those who smoke sheesha through a hookah. Many hookah smokers may consider this practice less harmful than smoking cigarettes; however hookah smoking carries many of the same health risks as cigarettes. The risk of lung cancer gets worse as you get older, but finding it early improves the chances of successful treatment. So if you have had a cough for three weeks or more, it’s worth visiting your doctor to be on the safe side.

You need to see a doctor straight away if you have been coughing for the past three weeks or more. Other symptoms of lung cancer include: A cough that has got worse or changes;Repeated chest infections; Coughing up blood; Breathlessness; 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.

If you notice any of these symptoms, tell your doctor right away. Detecting lung cancer early makes it easier to treat, so seeing your doctor quickly may save your life. It’s probably nothing serious but it could also be a sign of something else that needs treatment.

Please don’t ignore the symptoms or put off a trip to the doctor. It can make the world of difference and you won’t be wasting anyone’s time. And if you know anyone who has any of these symptoms, insist they see their doctor. Again, it’s probably nothing serious, but they should get it checked out.

Ernie Burton, Aged 62 from Blackburn was diagnosed with lung cancer in June 2010 after he noticed he had been coughing for over three weeks. Following chemotherapy and surgery Ernie has now given up smoking and is living each day to the full. He said ‘I would urge anyone experiencing any of the symptoms of lung cancer to go and see their doctor straight away, do not think you are wasting their time and try not to be scared. I thank my wife for making me go to my doctor when I did as I know I would have probably put it off for a bit longer otherwise’.

Doctor Fawad Zaman Lead Lung Cancer Clinician at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust commented on the campaign: “I thoroughly support the Be Clear on Lung Cancer campaign as it will play a vital role in raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of lung cancer and will ultimately save lives. I would urge anyone who has been coughing for three weeks or more or is experiencing any of the other symptoms described to speak to their GP straight away. The message is clear - the earlier cancer is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat. Your symptoms may be nothing serious, but it is better to have them checked out early to be sure."

If you need to find your doctor’s contact details or need more information on lung cancer please visit: www.nhs.uk/lungcancer.

For more local support and guidance please visit the Lancashire and South Cumbria website: www.cancerlancashire.org.uk or www.cancercumbria.org.uk.

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