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Canterbury and Coastal: Don’t scoff at having a cough

User AvatarPosted by Bobbie Walkem-Smith at 19/07/2013 15:05:40

Health teams in the Canterbury, Faversham, Herne Bay, Sandwich and Ash areas are urging anyone who has had a cough for three weeks or more to see their GP, as it could be a sign of lung cancer.

The message comes as part of a national push to raise awareness of lung cancer and Public Health England’s ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign.

Approximately 150 people from the NHS Canterbury and Coastal Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) area are diagnosed with lung cancer every year.

A persistent cough lasting for three weeks or more is one of the tell-tale signs. Other common symptoms to look out for include:

• A change in a cough you have had for a long time
• Coughing up phlegm with blood in it
• An ache or pain when coughing
• Shortness of breath
• Loss of appetite
• Losing weight
• Tiredness.

Nationally, lung cancer has one of the lowest survival rates of any cancer because over two-thirds of people are diagnosed at a late stage when treatment that could cure is not possible. More lives could be saved if people were diagnosed at an earlier stage.

Dr Simon Dunn, NHS Canterbury and Coastal CCG lead for cancer, said: “Sometimes, people are worried about bothering their GP and think that a cough is just something trivial that will clear up eventually. While this may be the case in most instances, it is better to be on the safe side and get checked out if you have had a cough for three weeks or more – especially if you suffer from existing lung problems.

“Early diagnosis of lung cancer is key to improving your chances of survival, so don’t ignore the symptoms. Your doctor will carry out a straightforward examination which will help them decide whether you need a chest X-ray and referral to a specialist.” 

Dr Dunn added: “Anyone can be at risk of developing lung cancer, but the risk is higher for people who are 50 plus and who smoke or are ex-smokers. It’s important that people who have had a cough for a few weeks don’t just shrug it off. Taking the time to make an appointment to see your GP sooner rather than later could make all the difference.” 

Meradin Peachey, KCC’s director of public health, said: “Medical science is improving and treatment is now much better – but this depends on how early the cancer is diagnosed. The link between a persistent cough and lung cancer is something that can really help people know when they should talk to their GP. And if the choice is between a simple appointment or leaving lung cancer undetected, I would urge people to visit their doctor if this issue applies to them.”

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