South East London NHS doctors are urging people with long-standing persistent coughs to visit their GP in a bid to tackle lung cancer.
The ‘Help Us Help You’ campaign is being launched after recent figures suggested people at risk one of the UK’s deadliest cancers might not be coming forward.
Cancer health chiefs are asking the public to contact their GP team if they have had a persistent cough for longer than three weeks or see other symptoms like coughing up blood or persistent breathlessness.
Dr Jonty Heaversedge, Joint Medical Director for 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 forward for tests and checks in the last year thanks to our campaigns and early diagnosis initiatives, but for lung cancer, we have not seen referrals bounce back at the same rate as other cancers.
“It is vital that people stay alert against suspected lung cancer symptoms, so if you have a continuous cough or breathlessness, don’t ignore this or assume it’s something else, please visit your GP and get it checked out – it probably won’t be cancer but if it is then 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 lung cancer referrals only returned to pre-pandemic levels in May 2022.
This is despite lung cancer being one of the most serious types of cancer. Last year, it was the fifth biggest cause of death in England, accounting for 26,410 deaths.
Over the last year, the NHS has seen record numbers of people being checked for cancer with over 5.3 million people referred between June 2021 and May 2022.