World Lung Cancer Day : Dr David Crichton

World Lung Cancer Day, observed every August 1, aims to educate and inform people about risk factors for the disease and highlights the importance of early detection promoting lung cancer screening.

Lung cancer continues to be one of the most common cancers worldwide, claiming more lives yearly than breast, colon, and prostate cancers combined. It is estimated that lung cancer accounts for nearly one in five cancer deaths globally.

Lung cancer was a rare disease in early 20th century but its incidence has gradually increased with increased smoking and it has become the most common type of cancer in the world.

Classed as a ‘preventable disease’, there are many factors that play a role in lung cancer development include tobacco products, industrial products, air pollution and nutritional deficiencies. Recent studies have demonstrated that the critical factor increasing the risk of lung cancer is the long-term respiration of carcinogenic materials.

In Doncaster, we have a high prevalence of ex and current smokers which is one of the reasons we were chosen as a pilot area for a lung heath check screening programme.

The service, which started in the South Doncaster in March 2021, aims to detect lung cancer earlier, as well as identifying other lung conditions.

It’s estimated that there are approximately 41,000 people in the town who will be invited for a lung health check as they have a history of smoking on their medical record.

The programme could help improve lung cancer survival rates across the borough with a recent study showing that checks such as these can potentially pick up changes earlier and reduce lung cancer deaths by around 26% in men and 40% in women.

Already, over 7,000 people have been invited for a lung health check and it’s important that if you do receive a letter, that you take advantage of the service and get a lung MOT. The nurses can help give general lung health advice too if you’ve been experiencing any respiratory issues.

Another thing to consider if you are offered a lung health check is that there are usually no signs or symptoms in the early stages of cancer. Symptoms of lung cancer develop as the condition progresses so the opportunity to have an assessment and a low dose CT scan is good thing. If something is found then treatment can be started early and it improves your chances of beating it.

The main symptoms of lung cancer include:

  • a cough that doesn’t go away after 2 or 3 weeks
  • a long-standing cough that gets worse
  • chest infections that keep coming back
  • coughing up blood
  • an ache or pain when breathing or coughing
  • persistent breathlessness
  • persistent tiredness or lack of energy
  • loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss

If you have any of these, you should seek medical advice.

For more information about the lung health check programme please visit www.lunghealthchecks.co.uk.

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