22 October 2007
Got a cough that won't go away or mystery chest pains? Don't leave it too long to get it checked out! Lung cancer can be treated if it is caught early enough. This is the message from two of the UK's leading cancer charities on the eve of Lung Cancer Awareness month, this November.
For the sixth year running, Macmillan Cancer Support and The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation are joining forces to urge people not to delay visiting their GP to get checked out if they are concerned they have any symptoms of lung cancer as it could mean the difference between life and death.
Every day 105 people are diagnosed with lung cancer and another 92 people die of the disease. Lung cancer has one of the lowest survival rates of any cancer. For 80 per cent of those diagnosed, their disease is inoperable because it has been noticed too late. If they got to the doctor earlier they could have been operated on and for many, their lives could have been saved.
People are encouraged to visit their GP if any of the symptoms below are experienced, particularly if they smoke or used to smoke.
• A cough that doesn't go away after two to three weeks
• Worsening of a long-standing cough
• Persistent chest infections
• Coughing blood
• Unexplained persistent breathlessness
• Unexplained persistent tiredness or lack of energy
• Unexplained persistent weight loss
• Persistent chest and / or shoulder pain
These symptoms may not be serious, in which case, you've got nothing to lose by getting them checked out. If they are serious, you've got everything to gain - diagnosis at an early stage could save your life.
Professor Jessica Corner, Director for Improving Cancer Services, Macmillan Cancer Support, said: "Lung cancer is the UK's biggest cancer killer, but early diagnosis does save lives. It's vital that people take any symptoms seriously and get checked out without delay to ensure the very best chance of survival."
Dr Jesme Fox, Medical Director at The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, said: "Overall, lung cancer remains a devastating disease. But we know that if we diagnose it in the early stages, before it has spread, there is a good chance of cure. This is why today's message is of such vital importance. If you have any new or worsening chest symptoms, you probably need a chest x-ray. So, get yourself checked out."
Lung cancer myths
Myth: Lung cancer is just a smoker's disease.
Fact: Although smoking is the main cause of lung cancer, one in eight cases are not linked to smoking.
Myth: The only cause of lung cancer is smoking.
Fact: Exposure to secondhand smoke and some substances such as asbestos will increase the risk.
Myth: Lung cancer is a working class male disease.
Fact: Lung cancer can affect anyone and there has been a big increase in the number of women who are affected.
Myth: Lung cancer is a death sentence.
Fact: New treatments have increased survival rates and, if the cancer is caught early enough, it may be curable.
Facts about your lungs
Your lungs are crucial to your health and it is important you look after them.
If your lungs were opened out fully and spread out they would cover an area the size of a tennis court.
Your lungs protect your body against infection from the germs you breathe in.
Non smokers can get lung cancer but smoking is still the major cause.
How to help yourself
By keeping physically active, you help keep your lungs healthy.
It is never too late to quit smoking. The good news is that quitting works, and the sooner you stop the better. Even if you have been smoking for most of your life, your chances of developing lung cancer will be much less if you give up now, whatever your age.
If you don't smoke, don't start.
Where to get help
Macmillan Cancer Support and The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation's eye-catching posters and leaflets, highlighting the signs and symptoms of lung cancer and the importance of early diagnosis, are available UK-wide through Somerfield supermarkets, doctors' surgeries, pharmacies, hospitals, smoking cessation services, and libraries – pick up a leaflet to find out more.
Alternatively, anyone wanting more information on lung cancer should call the Macmillan CancerLine on 0808 808 2020 or The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation Helpline on 0800 358 7200.
For further information, please contact:
Julia Anderson, Macmillan Cancer Support, 020 7840 7803 (out of hours 07801 307068) email firstname.lastname@example.org
Julie Cheston, The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, 0161 238 9417 email email@example.com
Download our Lung Cancer Awareness Month materials
Notes to Editors:
About The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation
The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation works towards defeating lung cancer through research, campaigning and education. The charity provides emotional and practical support for all those affected by lung cancer and smoking; it enables children and young people to make informed decisions about smoking and the tobacco industry. The charity campaigns for more resources for research into the early detection of lung cancer and the support for lung cancer patients.
Macmillan Cancer Support and The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation are both members of the UK Lung Cancer Coalition (UKLCC), a coalition of leading lung cancer experts, healthcare companies and charities with an interest in the disease who have joined together to fight lung cancer. http://www.uklcc.org.uk/
Statistics courtesy of Cancer Research UK.