Lung cancer: Dr Amir describes the symptoms in February
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One of these symptoms is an ache or pain while breathing or coughing. Alongside other symptoms, it is one which the NHS says should indicate that a person sees a GP.
Other signs of lung cancer include:
• A cough which doesn’t go away after two or three weeks
• A longstanding cough which gets worse
• Chest infections which keep returning
• Persistent breathlessness
• Persistent tiredness or lack of energy
• Loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss.
It is essential that someone is seen if they experience any of these symptoms as the sooner the disease is treated the greater the likelihood of survival by the patient.
In recent weeks, the NHS and the UK National Screening Committee (UKNSC), have begun the process of reaching out to those most likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer and offering them a test.
These form part of a set of proposals from the UKNSC which include inviting all former smokers between the ages of 55 and 74 to a lung cancer screening; under these plans anyone at high risk will be offered a CT scan.
One of the reasons for the decision to offer this age group lung screenings is because of Britain’s overall lung health with lung cancer outcomes rated as consistently poor by experts.
The main reason for this is because many lung cancer cases are not diagnosed until the cancer has reached a later stage, when the disease is much harder to treat and survival rates at their lowest.
Statistics suggest more than 50 percent of people diagnosed at a late stage will survive for less than five years. In light of these statistics, Cancer Research UK has urged the Government to roll out the tests as soon as possible.
Although the screenings could help save lives, its rollout could take some time with the decision being taken by individual ministers and previous similar programmes having taken years to get underway.
Nevertheless, the announcement of the proposed screening programme has been welcomed by those working in the cancer sector. Doctor Ian Walker of Cancer Research UK said: “We welcome this recommendation and urge governments in all four UK nations to roll out a targeted lung cancer screening programme as swiftly as possible.
“Lung cancer causes more deaths in the UK than any other cancer type, and screening could save lives by diagnosing people at an earlier stage – when treatment is more likely to be successful.”
This is the first time the UKNSC has recommended lung cancer screenings in 15 years; it says these checks could help save lives with earlier diagnoses.
It added that as well as screening former smokers, those who currently smoke should be encouraged to quit smoking – a habit responsible for around 70 percent of lung cancer cases in the UK.
The reason for this, says the NHS, is because tobacco smoke “smoke contains more than 60 different toxic substances, which are known to be carcinogenic (cancer-producing)”.
Doctor Walker added: “This is an opportunity for our new Prime Minister to prioritise cancer, and alongside an ambitious and fully funded long-term cancer plan, this could have significant impact for patients across the UK.
“Given smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, it’s vital that smoking cessation is an integral part of the programme. Stop smoking services need to be adequately funded, so people who want to quit can continue to get the support they need after participation in the programme.”
The screenings are already being offered in 23 different parts of the country where they are operating as part of pilot schemes.
These pilot schemes form of part of the department of Health’s war on cancer which was launched earlier this year by former Health Secretary Sajid Javid.
Javid’s successor, Theresa Coffey, has been called on by charities to publish a subsequent cancer plan, expanding on the department’s goals for the continuation of the war on cancer.
It is hoped that by expanding into new technologies that the disease will be beaten and more patients saved in the long term by new treatments and preventative therapies.
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