Health & Safety

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Lung Cancer

28 March 2009

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in the UK but many people do not realise if it is caught early enough it does not have to be a death sentence. The government aims to ensure that people are aware of the symptoms and know that they should seek professional help at the earliest opportunity.

Nearly 38,000 people are diagnosed with the disease each year. Latest figures from 2002 show that 29,000 people died that year. Common symptoms of lung cancer to look out for include:

lung cancer x-ray
  • A cough that does not go away after two to three weeks,
  • Worsening of a long-standing cough,
  • Persistent chest infections,
  • Coughing up blood,
  • Unexplained persistent breathlessness,
  • Unexplained persistent tiredness or lack of energy,
  • Unexplained persistent weight loss,
  • Persistent chest and / or shoulder pain,
  • More spit or phlegm, especially with blood in it,
  • Losing your voice but no sore throat,
  • Swelling in your face or neck.

There are many other causes of these symptoms, so just because you have some of them it does not mean you have lung cancer. However, these symptoms might mean something is wrong with your body. You should seek medical advice if you are concerned.

Lung cancer is curable if it is diagnosed early enough. People should see their doctor straight away if they have any of the above symptoms of lung cancer. These symptoms may not be serious, in which case, those concerned have nothing to lose by getting them checked out. If they are serious, there is everything to gain - diagnosis at an early stage could save a life.

The lungs are crucial to your health and it is important to look after them. The lungs take in oxygen that is essential for the body to function and they protect the body against infection from the germs you breathe in. People can make a difference to their lung health by keeping physically active, it helps keep the lungs healthy. It is never too late to quit smoking. No matter at what age you stop, you can make a real difference to your health. If you do not smoke, do not start.

There are many places you can get help. Check symptoms with a doctor, nurse, pharmacist or NHS Direct and mention your specific concerns. If you are concerned, request a chest x-ray from your doctor that can identify problems with your lungs.