01 November 2018
It is the most common cause of cancer death in the UK and usually shows no symptoms in the very early stages – so recognising possible signs of lung cancer when they do occur is of the utmost importance.
Now, with Lung Cancer Awareness Month running throughout November, medical experts are supporting efforts to make people fully aware of what they should be looking for.
At Spire Parkway Hospital, in Solihull near Birmingham, Consultant Oncologist Dr Shobhit Baijal explained: “While smoking is the main cause of lung cancer, around 1 in 8 people with the disease have never smoked so even non-smokers have to be aware of other indicators.
“These could include repeated chest infections, coughing up blood, breathlessness or even an ache or pain in your chest or shoulder. People should also seek medical advice if they start losing weight for no obvious reason or suddenly feel tired and lethargic on a regular basis.”
One sign that people seem to ignore is a long-running cough – particularly in the winter months, said Dr Baijal. “A persistent cough could be a sign of lung cancer so the sooner it is looked at properly the quicker a medical diagnosis can be made.
“I accept that winter is a difficult time because there are so many coughs, colds and sneezes doing the rounds but it isn’t normal for a cough to last for three weeks.
“A GP will be able to give you an expert opinion and, if they think it needs further investigation, will put you on the right healthcare pathway.”
According to statistics released by Cancer Research UK there were over 36,000 deaths from lung cancer in the UK in 2016 making up 21% of all cancer deaths in that period.
But, said Dr Baijal: “New treatments are being developed all the time with more sophisticated chemotherapies, an emergence of targeted therapies and more recently immunotherapies.
“However, 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.”
Q: How quickly could I have a consultation, and how much would it cost?
A: It depends on the availability of the consultant you wanted to see, but we pride ourselves on getting you fast access to diagnosis and you can often get a consultation within 24/48 hours. Initial consultation fees vary by consultant, but around £175 is a reasonable guide.
Q: If I need surgery, how quickly could I have it?
A: We have no waiting lists at Spire Parkway, but again, it depends on the availability of the consultant you wanted, but as a guide, and subject to your pre-operation assessment, between one and two weeks.
Q: I don’t have health insurance, can I self-pay?