Bad cough is lung cancer's main symptom, highlights campaign
Jeremy Laurance is a writer on health issues. He is former health editor of The Independent and the i and has covered the specialism for more than 20 years. He thinks the harm medicine does is under-appreciated, the harm it prevents over-rated, and that cycling works better than most drugs. He was named Specialist Journalist of the Year in the 2011 British Press Awards.
Monday 07 May 2012
It is Britain’s most lethal cancer but most people do not know the principal symptom that may indicate its presence.
While there is wide awareness that a breast lump is a warning sign of breast cancer and that bleeding could indicate bowel, kidney or bladder cancer, only one in ten people knows that a persistent cough could point to lung cancer.
Tomorrow the Be Clear on Cancer campaign launched with adverts on TV, radio, print and online will urge anyone who has had a cough for more than three weeks to visit their doctor.
The Government campaign is supported by celebrities including comedian Ricky Gervais and Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson who will be pictured holding x-rays of healthy lungs.
Care Services Minister Paul Burstow said: "Lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer in this country but worryingly many people don't know the signs and symptoms that could save their lives. The earlier lung cancer is diagnosed, the better the chance of survival.
"The message from this campaign is simple; if you have a persistent cough for three weeks or more, visit your GP."
The danger of a persistent cough is less appreciated than the change in the appearance of a mole on the skin which is known by 25 per cent of people to be a warning sign of skin cancer, according to a survey by Cancer Research UK in 2010.
Lung cancer affects 41,000 people every year in the UK , most over the age of 55, and causes 34,000 deaths. Cases have been declining in men, as a result of the decline in smoking that started in the 1950s and 1960s, but are still rising in women who took up smoking later. It takes around 30 years for lung cancer to develop.
When diagnosed at its earliest stage, as many as 80 per cent of people are alive five years after diagnosis compared with only 7 per cent diagnosed at a late stage.
Professor Sir Mike Richards, National Cancer Director for England, said:
"It is vital that cancer patients get treated quickly so they have the best chance of surviving. We have made early diagnosis central to our Cancer Outcomes Strategy.
"Earlier diagnosis of Lung Cancer combined with the best treatments could help save an additional 1,300 lives a year."
British actor and comedian, Ricky Gervais, whose mother died of lung cancer at the age of 74, said:
"It's devastating when you see someone you love dying from lung cancer. It's a horrible, horrible disease. My mother's death was very sudden and you can't help wondering if things would have been different had it been spotted earlier. If you've had a bad cough for three weeks and you can't get rid of it, just make an appointment with your GP today."
Paula Chadwick, chief executive of the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, said: "We really hope people will begin to associate a persistent cough as a symptom of lung cancer, the way they associate a lump as a symptom of breast or testicular cancer.
"The reality is it probably will be just a cough but if it is something more serious, getting it diagnosed early could just save your life."
It scooped up an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards when it was first remade in 1959
Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas
Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'
Revellers will have to pay to see New Year's Eve fireworks in London
...and the perfect time to visit them
Newcastle winger reveals he has testicular cancer - and is losing his trademark long hair as a result
Man's attempt to avoid being impounded heavily criticised
Life & Style blogs
Victoria's Secret models star in new nude Russell James book
iPhone 6 review: bigger, thinner, faster, brighter - Apple proves you can make the best better
iPhone 6 Plus review: more like a small iPad that makes calls - but perfect for some
Jennifer Lawrence nude pictures leaked: Reddit removes 'The Fappening' board dedicated to sharing naked pictures of celebrities
A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 1 Scottish independence: Ireland since 1919 is a lesson for Scotland in what a Yes vote means
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 3 Say yes to 'no-poo': It's been three years since I stopped washing my hair
- 4 Grandmas keep accidentally tagging themselves as Grandmaster Flash on Facebook
- 5 Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education are urgentl...
£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Rapidly developing and growing...
£105 - £120 per day + Expenses: Randstad Education Maidstone: Randstad Educat...
£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education are curren...