LUNG cancer is the most common cancer in the world and is the most common cause of cancer death in the UK for both men and women and for women specifically this is on the increase. In the UK alone 44,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. It is more common in smokers but 1 person in 8 have never smoked. Smoking is responsible for 90% of cancer cases in men and 78% of cases in women. Finding lung cancer early improves the chances of cure, but only 17% are found early.  70% of patients diagnosed with lung cancer die within the first year because they present late.

It is a sad fact that lung cancer patients in Wales have the lowest survival rates in Europe. More locally in the Hywel Dda region a report by Public Health Wales – Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit in 2015 noted patients have the highest late stage presentation of lung cancer in the country (Wales) 68.8% against a national average of 63.6% and the lowest figure of 15% for early stage presentation against a national average of 17%. These variances may seem small but they are significant in relation to survival rates.

The good news is that there are lots of things you can do to drastically improve your chances of survival if you are diagnosed with this potentially life threatening condition but the key is to recognise the signs early on and get yourself checked out. There are a number of symptoms you should look out for including; a cough that won’t go away, feeling breathless for no reason, chest or shoulder pain, chest infection(s), coughing up blood or having blood in your spit, hoarseness in your voice, a cough that you always have or changes and gets worse, unexplained tiredness or lack of energy and weight loss that you can’t understand.

Commenting on this Robbie Ghosal, Royal College of Physicians Specialty Advisor for Respiratory Medicine in Wales and Consultant Physician, says “If you are experiencing any of these symptoms don’t delay visiting your GP, even if you don’t smoke. It is most likely that this will be nothing serious and will put your mind at rest. If it is lung cancer, early diagnosis means that there are more treatment options available to you which are generally more effective and could ultimately save your life.”

Adding to this, Respiratory Consultant and Lung Cancer Specialist, Dr Gareth Collier says, “You are not wasting your doctor’s time by getting your symptoms checked. Your doctor is likely to ask for more information about your cough and other symptoms and may suggest a chest X-ray which is a standard procedure. This may be followed by a CT scan even if the chest X-ray is normal. It is vital to recognise the warning signs and get medical attention promptly. The earlier lung cancer is found, the more likely it is to be successfully treated.”

So what can you do to minimise your risk of cancer; get help to stop smoking, reduce your exposure to second hand smoke, diet and exercise can be important, eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day, reduce your fat intake, eat less salt and sugar, reduce how much alcohol you drink and take regular exercise.

This campaign has been aligned with World Cancer Day which is taking place on 4th February. World Cancer Day unites the world’s population in the fight against cancer and aims to save millions of preventable deaths each year by raising awareness and education about the disease, pressing governments and individuals across the world to take action.

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