Get it off your chest - Don't keep your cough a secret!

Here comes winter and almost everyone seems to have a cough!

But if your cough lasts for three weeks or more it could be something more serious than a ‘bit of a cold’.

Now, as part of Lung Cancer Awareness Month, which runs throughout November, doctors are urging people to stop waiting for their cough to clear and get themselves to their GP.

“Winter is a difficult time because people think they shouldn’t bother their doctor unless it is ‘something serious’. The problem is, it could be very serious and the only way to find out is to get it checked,” said Dr Syed Husain, a Respiratory Physician with specialist interest in lung cancer at Spire Alexandra Hospital in Walderslade.

“A persistent cough could be a sign of lung cancer so the sooner it is detected and diagnosed the better the chances of treating it successfully.

While smoking is the main cause of lung cancer, around 1 in 8 people with lung cancer have never smoked so it is important to look out for other tell-tale signs which include:

  • Repeated chest infections
  • Coughing up blood
  • Breathlessness
  • Feeling more tired than usual
  • Losing weight for no obvious reason
  • An ache or pain in your chest or shoulder.

According to statistics released by Cancer Research UK there were more than 45,000 new cases of lung cancer diagnosed in 2013 while in 2014 almost 36,000 people died from the disease.

“Another problem,” said Dr Husain “Is that there are usually no signs or symptoms in the very early stages of lung cancer which makes looking out for possible signs when they do occur even more important.

“It is true that 10-year survival rates for lung cancer are low, at around 5% compared to 78% for breast cancer and 84% for prostate cancer. However, new diagnostic tools like Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS) and Navigational Bronchoscopy tools are now available for early detection. Onsite CT Scans and PET scanning are also available for our patients and newer treatments are being developed all the time not only surgical cures but with newer and more sophisticated drugs, chemotherapy, the emergence of new targeted therapies and more recently immunotherapies.”

“But our best weapon in the fight is early detection, and that depends on people reacting to signs such as a persistent cough. You won’t be wasting anyone’s time and it could help save your life.”

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