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Health experts urge all to be aware of respiratory cancer symptoms

Do you ever get out of breath doing the things you used to be able to do?

If the answer is ‘yes’, health professionals on the Fylde coast say it could be a sign of lung disease, heart disease or even cancer.

Hospital staff and GPs say identifying conditions early makes them more treatable so anyone who is concerned should consult their doctor as soon as possible.

Fylde coast residents are also being urged to see a doctor if they have had a cough for three weeks or more.

The ‘Be Clear on Cancer Respiratory Symptoms’ campaign is running until late August, 2017.

This national campaign is being backed locally by Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Blackpool CCG and Blackpool Council.

Jackie Brunton, Lead Nurse for Cancer at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals, said: “Be Clear on Cancer campaigns aim to improve early diagnosis of cancer by raising public awareness of signs and/or symptoms of cancer and to encourage people to see their GP without delay.

“We want people to seek advice and help from GP’s early to enable us to undertake appropriate tests to either reassure you or if we do diagnose something more serious then quickly provide treatment. Lung cancer survival is much higher the earlier we detect it – the main thing is to chat through with your GP in the first instance.”

Dr Venu Kollipara, Head of the Trust’s Acute Medical Unit (AMU) and his team, said: “Be safe – don’t take any risks with your health.

“If you’ve been more breathless than usual, had a cough for longer than three weeks or have been losing weight make an appointment to see you GP. It’s probably nothing serious, but you’re not wasting anyone’s time by getting it checked out.”

Dr Adam Janjua, Chair of the Fylde Coast Cancer Steering Group and a local GP, said: “People who have symptoms such as a cough for more than three weeks, breathlessness or unexplained weight loss, should book an appointment to see their GP.

“Smokers are especially at risk. If you’re in the age bracket above 50 and you have a developed a cough lasting more than three weeks, you need to see your GP.

“A lot of smokers think it might just be a ‘smoker’s cough’ but it is better to err on the side of caution and get such coughs checked out.

“As Chair of the Fylde Coast Cancer Steering Group, I feel very strongly about this campaign. As GPs, we want people to come to see us if they have what we call ‘red flag’ symptoms of cancer – we don’t want people to leave it until it’s too late.

“Lung cancer survival rates are much higher if people come to see us as soon as possible – the earlier the better. These symptoms could also be the presentation of early stages of lung or heart disease. Early detection, diagnosis and treatment of these will enable patients to live normal and healthier lives.”

A spokesperson for Blackpool council said: “It’s easy for people to shrug off little things like breathlessness or a persistent cough and hope they go away on their own. However, the underlying causes of them could be serious and even life-threatening.

“For the sake of a quick visit to your GP, it’s better to be safe than sorry and it’s completely worth getting yourself checked out.”

The breathlessness campaign is focussed not only on achieving earlier diagnosis of these conditions which could result in premature death and where earlier diagnosis could make a difference, but also on earlier diagnosis improving the quality of life of people living with long-term conditions such as COPD.

The campaign is aimed mainly at men and women aged years 50 and over, as well as their family and friends.

People over the age of 50 are most at risk of having undiagnosed respiratory illness and make up 97 per cent of lung cancer diagnoses.

Contact your GP if you have had a cough for three weeks or more, breathlessness or any unexplained respiratory symptoms.