November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and health care professional across Humber, Coast and Vale are urging the public to contact their GP if experiencing symptoms of lung cancer.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the number of people speaking to their GP about potential symptoms of lung cancer decreased which resulted in the number of urgent cancer referrals falling to 36% in April 2020 when compared to 2019.
While the number of lung cancer referrals is back up to 65% of pre-coronavirus levels, there are still people with worrying symptoms not contacting their GP. This may be partly because the symptoms of lung cancer are very similar to the symptoms of coronavirus.
Dr Vince Rawcliffe, GP Lead for Cancer at NHS Hull CCG explains,
“Early symptoms of lung cancer and the common symptoms of coronavirus are similar and we understand why people might be hesitant to contact their GP about these symptoms.
“A persistent cough or breathlessness, coughing up blood, unexplained weight loss and tiredness or an ache or pain when breathing or coughing are all early signs of lung cancer. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, please give your GP a call. The sooner you tell us about these symptoms, the sooner we can help you.
“If you’re suffering from a high temperature, a new, continuous cough that feels dry, breathlessness or a change in your sense of smell or taste, it may be coronavirus. Book a test and self-isolate until you’ve received your results. If your results are negative and your symptoms persist, book an appointment with your GP.“
Early diagnosis of cancer can often mean treatment is simpler and more effective. 70% of lung cancer patients will survive for at least a year if diagnosed at the earliest stage. However, research has revealed that almost half (48%) of the public would delay or not seek medical help at all about a potential cancer symptom.
Dr Stuart Baugh, Clinical Director for Humber, Coast and Vale Cancer Alliance said,
“We want to help anyone experiencing symptoms of lung cancer. It’s important we see you early when treatment may be more effective.
“If you are invited to visit the hospital for an x-ray appointment, please attend. There are a range of measures in place to make it safer for both you and staff including PPE and COVID-19 secure areas. The NHS is still here for you and from the start of the pandemic in March to the end of August, 93% of people urgently referred for cancer were seen within 2 weeks.”