Lung Cancer Symptoms
Yorkshire Cancer Research is urging people in the region to look out for symptoms during Lung Cancer Awareness Month this November.
The charity is encouraging people to seek medical advice if they experience any of the following:
a cough that lasts three weeks or more
a cough that has got worse or has changed
frequent chest infections
chest or shoulder pain
breathlessness that cannot be attributed to an underlying condition
feeling more tired than usual
unexplained weight loss
loss of appetite
Lung cancer incidence rates in Yorkshire are significantly higher than the national average.
More than 4,000 people in the region are diagnosed every year.
By seeing a GP at the earliest possible stage, lung cancer patients can significantly increase their chance of survival. More than half of lung cancer patients in Yorkshire are diagnosed when their cancer is very advanced, which means treatment options are limited and the chances of survival are low.
Dr Kathryn Scott, Chief Executive at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said: "It is so vital that people see their doctor if they notice any unusual symptoms. They will not be wasting anyone's time. The chances are it won't be anything serious, but if it is cancer and it is found early then treatment which cures the disease is possible."
Yorkshire Cancer Research is aiming to improve lung cancer survival rates in the region by funding a number of different projects across the county, particularly in areas that have high incidence and mortality rates.
In Hull, the charity is investing £712,500 in a new community health campaign led by Professor Una Macleod, Dean of the Hull York Medical School.
The campaign, due to start in early 2018, will raise awareness of lung cancer symptoms and encourage smokers and ex-smokers to attend lung health checks. The team will also work with GP practices in the area to make it easier for people to get appointments and referrals for chest x-rays if they experience potential symptoms.
Although non-smokers can develop lung cancer, it is much more common in those who do smoke.
More than four in five lung cancers are caused by smoking, and 24.2% of the population in Hull smoke compared to 15.5% in England as a whole.
Professor Macleod said: "Our aim is to improve the earlier diagnosis of lung cancer by encouraging people to see their doctor when they notice lung cancer symptoms, and by getting GPs to see and refer them sooner. If fewer people were diagnosed at an advanced stage, many lives could be saved."
The charity is also investing £5.2m in a lung screening trial which will be carried out in mobile vans within communities in Leeds.
Screening is a different approach from making people aware of symptoms. Instead it tests people for signs of early lung cancer even if they have no symptoms at all. Lung cancers detected by screening are usually much smaller than those detected after symptoms develop, and so the chance of cure can be very high.
The trial, run in partnership with the University of Leeds and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and led by Dr Matthew Callister, Consultant in Respiratory Medicine, will focus on smokers and ex-smokers aged 55-80 years. An estimated 17.8% of the population in Leeds smoke compared to 15.5% in England as a whole.
Around 7,000 people will be screened during the trial, which is expected to start in summer 2018. This could lead to 300 cancers being diagnosed.
Dr Callister said: "Lung cancer screening is not currently available in the UK, and the Yorkshire Lung Screening Trial is hoping to show that screening can be effectively introduced into the UK in a community setting, and to show which people would most benefit from screening. If lung cancer screening was rolled out across Yorkshire, hundreds of lives a year could be saved."
Dr Scott added: "We know we can make a huge difference to cancer outcomes in Yorkshire by focusing on early detection. We hope that these two approaches - focusing on early investigation of people with symptoms, and screening people without symptoms but who are at high risk of lung cancer, will potentially save thousands of lives in Yorkshire. That's why Yorkshire Cancer Research is funding these two vital studies in this area. If successful, both approaches could be rolled out across the county and beyond."
For help and advice on quitting smoking, visit www.nhs.uk/smokefree.
Lung Cancer Symptoms, 6th November 2017, 10:08 AM