Did you know lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer related death in the United Kingdom? Over 41,000 people are diagnosed with the condition every year (source: www.nhs.uk).
November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month which aims to raise awareness of the disease and how people can spot the early signs and symptoms. So what are some of the common symptoms to look out for?
- A bad cough which doesn’t go away for at least three weeks, or that changes and becomes more severe
- Unexplained, persistent breathlessness.
- A chest infection that won’t go away even when it has been treated with antibiotics.
- Hoarseness or swelling of the face and neck.
- Coughing up phlegm with signs of blood in it.
- Pain in the chest or shoulders when breathing or coughing.
- Tiredness and weight loss.
If you have any of the above symptoms you should see your GP. The most common cause of lung cancer is smoking. Smoking and using other types of tobacco products can increase the risk of developing lung cancer and other cancers including cervical and mouth. People who have never smoked can also develop the condition as a result of passive smoking.
Surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy are the main treatments. Here at the Trust we provide support services for patients who have been diagnosed with lung cancer as well as support for their families.
Matthew Kear, lung cancer support nurse at Heartlands Hospital, says: “Across the Trust within the lung cancer team, we have lung cancer specialist nurses. Their role is to provide care for patients with lung cancer, and their families and carers. Nurses will support lung cancer patients throughout their treatment and give them information about treatments, support organisations and other services people may benefit from.
“Our lung cancer multi-disciplinary team provide individualised care to all patients with lung cancer and other tumours within the chest.
“The Trust also has lung investigation days where newly referred patients with suspected lung cancer are seen and assessed. The assessment includes a clinical evaluation, CT scan and if needed a bronchoscopy (a procedure that examines the airways of the lungs). This process ensures that patients are diagnosed and begin appropriate treatment with the minimum of delay.”
If you would like further information on lung cancer, please visit the Macmillan Cancer Support website: www.macmillan.org.uk.
Lung Cancer Awareness Month takes place every year in November.