Could you spot the signs and symptoms of lung cancer?

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GPs in Lambeth are supporting a nationwide drive to ensure people understand the symptoms of one of the UK’s most common and most serious cancers.

Lung cancer is one of the deadliest diseases in the world but prevention – primarily through stopping smoking – and early diagnosis make a huge difference to potential survival rates.

Around 47,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with the condition each year, making it the second most common cancer in the country. It mainly affects older people, and is rare in those under 40. More than 40 per cent of those living with the disease are aged 75 or older.

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and Lambeth GPs are backing efforts to improve understanding of the condition and how to spot the early signs.

Smoking is the most common cause, accounting for nearly three quarters of cases. However, exposure to certain chemicals such as asbestos and coal fumes can also be a factor.

There are usually no signs or symptoms in the early stages. Eventual symptoms can include:

  • a persistent cough
  • coughing up blood
  • persistent breathlessness
  • unexplained tiredness and weight loss
  • an ache or pain when breathing or coughing.

These symptoms are usually not noticeable until the cancer has spread through the lungs or into other parts of the body, making the outlook after diagnosis worse than with many other cancers. However, early diagnosis can still make a big difference.

The awareness month, run by a coalition of international research and advocacy organisations, seeks to encourage people from across the world to share their personal experiences of dealing with lung cancer, particularly when they are stories of hope.

Dr Adrian McLachlan, a local GP and Chair of NHS Lambeth CCG said: “Lung Cancer Awareness Month provides an important opportunity to consider one of the most common, and most serious, cancers and better understand the symptoms.

“If you are concerned that you might be ill, please arrange to visit your GP as soon as possible. Most people who come in either recognise the symptoms or suspect there may be something serious but, if you’re unsure or worried about finding out, it’s important not to delay.

“The earlier you spot it, the better your chances the cancer will be treatable and you’ll survive.”

Most cases of lung cancer are caused by smoking and there are a number of free resources to help people in Lambeth stop smoking. You can find out more on Lambeth Council’s website.

For more information on lung cancer and how to spot the disease, please visit the lung cancer page on the NHS website.

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