Don't miss the tell-tale sign that could save your life!

13 November 2017

Lung Cancer Awareness Month runs throughout November

It may well be winter and the weather may dull and damp but that doesn’t mean you have to have a constant cough!

Coughs that last more than three weeks could well be the sign of something much more sinister than a common cold and need checking out by your GP, according to experts supporting Lung Cancer Awareness Month which runs throughout November.

“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 James Ramsay, a respiratory consultant at Spire Harpenden Hospital.

While smoking is the main cause of lung cancer, around one in eight 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.

“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,” said Dr Ramsay.

“Another problem is that in the very early stages of lung cancer there are not usually any signs or symptoms - which makes it even more important to act upon any ‘indicators’ if they do occur.”

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.

“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 treatments are being developed all the time with more sophisticated chemotherapies, an emergence of targeted therapies and more recently immunotherapies,” explained Dr Ramsay.

“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.”


The consultant

Dr James Ramsay provides a comprehensive respiratory outpatient practice at Spire Harpenden Hospital and has access to excellent diagnostic facilities including a full repertoire of imaging and detail physiological studies including full lung function and sleep studies. His sub-specialty training is in lung cancer, airways disease, intestinal lung disease, pulmonary infection including tuberculosis and brochiectasis, sleep medicine, ventilation, cough and pulmonary vascular disease.



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