01 November 2017
It may well be winter and the weather may be dull and damp but that doesn’t mean you have to have a constant cough.
Coughs that last more than three weeks could be a 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, ongoing symptoms could represent something more serious and the only way to find out is to get it checked out,” said Dr Maria Finnegan, Private GP at Spire Washington 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
- Feeling more tired than usual
- Losing weight for no obvious reason
- An ongoing, unexplained ache or pain in your chest or shoulder.
“A persistent cough could be a sign of lung cancer so the sooner its cause is diagnosed the better the chances of treating it successfully are” said Dr Finnegan.
“Another problem is that in the very early stages of lung cancer there are sometimes not any obvious signs or symptoms, which makes it even more important to act upon any ‘indicators’, such as the signs listed above if they are ongoing.”
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 relatively 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 Finnegan.
“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 content of this article is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other health care professional.