The NHS has urged people not to ignore lung cancer symptoms as it launches new 'Help Us Help You' campaign. 

The campaign, launched on World Lung Cancer Day, aims to encourage those with symptoms of the disease to come forward and speak to their GP sooner. 

Cancer Research UK reported 34,771 deaths from Lung Cancer in the UK from 2017-2019, with 71% of cases being preventable according to the charity's 2015 research.

The national health service's campaign specifically targets more at-risk groups, including over-60s and people from working-class backgrounds who might be more reluctant to visit their GP.

Denbighshire Free Press: A doctor wearing a stethoscope. Credit: PAA doctor wearing a stethoscope. Credit: PA

Professor Peter Johnson, national clinical director for cancer, said: “For lung cancer, we have not seen referrals bounce back at the same rate as other cancers.

“It is vital that people stay alert against suspected lung cancer symptoms, so if you have a continuous cough or breathlessness, don’t ignore or assume it’s something else, please visit your GP and get it checked out – it probably won’t be cancer but catching it early can help save lives.”

NHS Lung Cancer symptoms to watch out for

The NHS says there are usually no signs or symptoms for those in the early stages of lung cancer, but many people with the condition eventually develop the following symptoms:

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

For more information on cancer symptoms and the the types of lung cancer, visit the NHS website.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay said: “We know that the earlier you catch cancer, the better the chances of survival, and the Help Us Help You initiative is empowering people to come forward for screening – particularly for lung cancer, which is the biggest cause of death by cancer in England.

“I want to thank all those that continue to be involved in this lifesaving campaign, which aims to increase the number of cancer patients diagnosed at earlier stages from half to three-quarters by 2028.

“If you have any of the key symptoms set out by the NHS, I urge you to see your GP without delay to get checked out – early diagnosis is absolutely vital to beat this disease.”

Cally Palmer, NHS England national cancer director said it was “imperative” that people are aware of the symptoms and come forward as quickly as possible.

She said: “The NHS is here to help and our services are open so people should not hesitate to come forward if they notice potential lung cancer symptoms.”

Denbighshire Free Press: Medical professionals in a hospital. Credit: PAMedical professionals in a hospital. Credit: PA

What causes Lung Cancer?

Smoking is considered the biggest cause of Lung Cancer with the NHS stating that is responsible for more than 70% of cases.

While cigarettes are the worst culprit, other tobacco-based products can increase your risks including cigars, pipe tobacco, snuff (a powdered form of tobacco) and chewing tobacco.

Other contributing factors include regular exposure to passive smoking, Radon gas as well as exposure to various chemicals and substances including the likes of arsenic, asbestos, beryllium, cadmium, coal and coke fumes, silica and nickel.

For further information on the causes of Lung Cancer, visit the NHS website.

Denbighshire Free Press: Samples being analysed in a microscope. Credit: PASamples being analysed in a microscope. Credit: PA

Lung Cancer Survival Rate

Over the past 40 years, Lung Cancer survival hasn't seen much improvement in the UK.

The five-year relative survival for lung cancer rate is below the European average for both men and women across the UK -  except for amongst men in Northern Ireland where it is similar to the average.

When diagnosed at its earliest stage, Cancer Research UK says that almost 9 in 10 (88%) people with lung cancer will survive their disease for one year or more.

Meanwhile, around 1 in 5 (19%) people survive when the disease is diagnosed at the latest stage, the leader cancer charity stated.

For more Lung Cancer statistics, visit the Cancer Research UK website.

Lung Cancer Prevention

Denbighshire Free Press: A person smoking. Credit: PAA person smoking. Credit: PA

If you are a smoker, the best way to reduce your risk of developing Lung Cancer is to quit, the NHS has advised. 

This is regardless of how long you have has the habit- with every year of not smoking, you can decrease your risk of getting various serious illnesses.

In fact, the NHS says that after 10 years of not smoking, your chances of developing lung cancer can fall to half that of someone who smokes.

The national health service has also recommended leading a balanced diet, and regular exercise as a means of lowering your risk.

Read more about Lung Cancer prevention and treatment via the NHS website.

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