CELEBRITIES and doctors urge people to get checked for lung cancer if they test negative for Covid-19 but have a cough for more than three weeks.
In a new film, Sir Andrew Strauss, the ex-England cricket captain, who lost his wife to lung cancer, and television presenter Gaby Roslin, who lost her mother to the disease, encourage people with an ongoing cough not to delay contacting their GP.
“It’s so important that if you notice any loved ones showing symptoms that could be a sign of cancer that you encourage them to contact their GP practice,” said Sir Strauss.
A recent research has found that almost half of people do not know that a persistent cough for more than three weeks can be a lung cancer symptom.
From the start of the Covid-19 pandemic to December, 228,000 people started NHS treatment for cancer, 95 per cent of whom did so within a month, a statement said.
Hospitals across England have also carried out more than two cancer procedures for every patient they treated for coronavirus in 2020. However, latest figures show GP referrals for lung cancer remain lower than the same point last year.
Dr Karen Sandhu, a Macmillan GP based in Swindon, said: “In the South Asian community, we can often assume cancer is a fatal illness, but research has shown us that earlier diagnosis can make cancer more treatable.
“I would urge you not to take any chances with your health – if you or your loved one has a cough for three weeks or more that isn’t Covid-19, please speak to your GP practice.”
Dr Muhammed Tufail, consultant respiratory physician and lung cancer lead at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust said: “Early detection of lung cancer is key to increasing the options for effective treatment and saving lives. We’re encouraging people, especially those aged over 60, to contact their GP practice if they’ve had a cough for three weeks or more and it isn’t Covid-19.
According to a statement, NHS England has introduced a series of innovations in cancer care during the pandemic, including Covid-19-secure surgery hubs that were set up across the country.
It has invested £160 million in ‘Covid-19-friendly’ cancer drugs, that treat patients without having such a big impact on their immune system or offer other benefits such as fewer hospital visits.
Around 39,300 people are diagnosed with lung cancer in England each year. Five-year survival for persons diagnosed with stage 1 lung cancer is 57 per cent compared with just 3 per cent for those diagnosed with late stage (stage 4) lung cancer.