The NHS has launched a lung cancer awareness campaign to encourage those with symptoms to go for earlier GP checks to catch the disease sooner.
The Help Us Help You campaign, launched on World Lung Cancer Day, targets those most at risk, including over-60s and people from working-class backgrounds who are often more reluctant to visit their GP.
Lung cancer is the biggest cause of cancer-related deaths in England, with 26,410 patients dying last year making it the fifth biggest cause of death overall in England.
Professor Peter Johnson, national clinical director for cancer, said: “For lung cancer, we have not seen referrals bounce back at the same rate as other cancers.
“It is vital that people stay alert against suspected lung cancer symptoms, so if you have a continuous cough or breathlessness, don’t ignore or assume it’s something else, please visit your GP and get it checked out – it probably won’t be cancer but catching it early can help save lives.”
Symptoms can include having a cough for longer than three weeks, coughing up blood, or persistent breathlessness.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay said: “We know that the earlier you catch cancer, the better the chances of survival, and the Help Us Help You initiative is empowering people to come forward for screening – particularly for lung cancer, which is the biggest cause of death by cancer in England.
“I want to thank all those that continue to be involved in this lifesaving campaign, which aims to increase the number of cancer patients diagnosed at earlier stages from half to three-quarters by 2028.
“If you have any of the key symptoms set out by the NHS, I urge you to see your GP without delay to get checked out – early diagnosis is absolutely vital to beat this disease.”
Tracy Bourne, 59, from Stoke-on-Trent, who recovered from lung cancer in 2019, said: “I am just so grateful to that GP who realised that my cough might have been more than an infection and sent me for the initial X-ray. Without a doubt, it saved my life.”
Cally Palmer, NHS England national cancer director said it was “imperative” that people are aware of the symptoms and come forward as quickly as possible.
She said: “The NHS is here to help and our services are open so people should not hesitate to come forward if they notice potential lung cancer symptoms.”