Man's warning after being diagnosed with 'silent killer' disease on his birthday

Owen McGrath
-Credit: (Image: Clatterbridge Cancer Centre)

A man is urging others to come forward after being diagnosed with a 'silent killer' illness after a routine check-up. Owen McGrath was given the shocking news on his birthday that he had cancer growing in his left lung following a CT scan. It came after the 71-year-old was invited for an appointment to check his lung health.

It is a part of a programme that is being rolled out in parts of Cheshire and Merseyside. More than one million people in England, aged 55 to 74, who smoke or used to smoke have already been invited for a free targeted screening.

Owen is now urging anyone invited to these appointments to "act immediately" as it could save their life. "I'm just so glad I went for the check. I didn't expect the scan to show anything at all, but I later got a call to say they had found something" he told the Liverpool Echo.

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"It was a shock, but it meant I was then given more in-depth scans and tests before they confirmed that it was cancer. They told me on my birthday but, to be honest, I was just glad they had caught it.

"The treatment wasn't too bad. When people think about lung cancer, they think it's a death sentence, especially if the cancer is growing like mine was, but that is just not true.

"The treatments they have now mean that you have a chance to get through it. I thought that the treatment itself would be hard on me, but I found it okay and I'm still alive.

"I would say to anyone who is offered a lung health check, just do it. Act on it immediately. You can't ignore a free check-up it could save your life!"

Lung cancer is often referred to as a "silent killer" because it can develop without causing noticeable symptoms in its early stages. It is the UK's biggest cancer killer, claiming the lives of more people than breast, prostate and pancreatic cancers combined.

It is a particular issue in parts of Cheshire and Merseyside, where the number of people diagnosed with the disease is significantly above the national average. The screenings are already credited with saving lives in in Liverpool, where Owen lives, as well as Halton, Knowsley, St Helens and south Sefton.

Dr Chris Warburton, lung health check clinical director of programme, said: "We are delighted that eligible people in Wirral and Warrington and then north Sefton will soon be able to have these checks. We've seen the amazing impact of them since the programme was first launched in Liverpool a few years ago."

"Lung cancer can be difficult to detect early, which is why so many people are diagnosed when the disease has become incurable. But these checks are helping us to diagnose more people earlier, when cancer is far easier to treat."

"That's why we want everyone who is given an appointment to attend it. The chances are that you won't have any symptoms of lung problems but should have the check whether you feel well or not."

"For the majority of those who attend, everything will be fine, but for those who do have something wrong, catching it early can make all the difference. Targeted Lung Health Checks are painless, quick, convenient and free of charge, so if you are given an appointment for one. Please do not ignore it."

For more information about the Targeted Lung Health Check programme, click here.

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