NHS doctors in south-east London are urging people with long-standing persistent coughs to see their GP in a bid to tackle lung cancer.
The ‘Help us help you’ campaign is being launched after recent figures suggest people at risk of one of the UK’s deadliest cancers may not come forward.
Cancer health chiefs are asking the public to contact their team of GPs if they have a persistent cough for more than three weeks or see other symptoms like coughing up blood or persistent shortness of breath.
Dr. Jonty Heaversedge, The Joint Medical Director of the South East London Integrated Care Board, said: ‘We are going further and faster in our efforts to tackle cancer and have seen record numbers of people coming in for tests and checks over the past the past year through our campaigns and early diagnostic initiatives, but for lung cancer, we haven’t seen referrals rebound at the same rate as for other cancers.
“It is essential that people remain alert for suspected symptoms of lung cancer, so if you have a continuous cough or shortness of breath, do not ignore this or assume it is something else, please see your GP and get it checked out – it probably won’t be cancer, but if it is, catching it early can help save lives.
Referrals for most types of cancer quickly returned to pre-pandemic levels after the first wave of COVID-19, but referrals for lung cancer did not return to pre-pandemic levels until May 2022.
This is despite the fact that lung cancer is one of the most serious types of cancer. Last year it was the fifth leading cause of death in England, with 26,410 fatalities.
Over the past year, the NHS has seen a record number of people being checked for cancer with more than 5.3 million people referred between June 2021 and May 2022.