African Caribbean communities urged to be aware of symptoms of lung cancer, lung disease and heart disease.

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Public Health England launches its first national campaign to raise awareness of symptoms of lung cancer, lung disease1 and heart disease.

The main lifestyle risk factor for both lung cancer and some other lung diseases is smoking. There is a higher prevalence of smoking amongst Black Caribbeans compared with the general population.

A new film aimed at African Caribbeans has been released. The film encourages anyone with a persistent cough, or who gets out of breath doing things that they used to be able to do, to visit their GP as it could be a sign of one of these conditions.

Finding these conditions early makes them more treatable, so early diagnosis is crucial. Public Health England has launched a new nationwide ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign with the aim of raising awareness of the symptoms of lung cancer, other lung disease, and heart disease – all leading causes of death in England.

It is estimated that there are around 80,000 undiagnosed cases of lung cancer, 1 million cases of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease – a common form of lung disease that includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis) and 600,000 undiagnosed cases of coronary heart disease.

These diseases are all leading causes of death in England. Lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer, accounting for around 28,400 deaths each year,i while COPD is the cause of a further 24,000 deaths.ii Coronary heart disease (the main type of heart disease) is the single biggest cause of death, accounting for over 56,000 deaths in England each year.iii Earlier diagnosis of these diseases has the potential to save lives and improve the quality of life of those living with conditions such as COPD.

A persistent cough or getting out of breath doing everyday tasks that you used to be able to do, such as mowing the lawn or vacuuming, could be a sign of lung cancer or other lung disease. Breathlessness could be a sign of heart disease as well. The campaign encourages anyone experiencing these symptoms to see their GP. Finding these conditions early makes them more treatable.

The campaign is aimed at men and women aged 50 and over, as older people are most at risk of lung cancer, COPD and heart disease. As part of the campaign a new film has been released that features real people sharing their personal experience of their conditions and a GP highlighting the signs and symptoms associated with these diseases, the film can be viewed here.

Professor Kevin Fenton, Public Health England National Director for Health and Wellbeing said:
“The estimated number of people with undiagnosed lung cancer, lung disease or heart disease, is deeply concerning. If diagnosed early, these diseases can be managed and treated successfully.

“This campaign is crucially important to African Caribbean communities as we know that there is a higher rate of smoking amongst these ethnic groups; and smoking increases the risk of lung cancer and COPD, a common form of lung disease. The campaign will help people recognise the symptoms and encourage them to seek help, potentially saving lives from what are three of the biggest causes of death in England.”

Dr Jyoti Sood, GP at Newbury Park, Redbridge featured in the film said:
“People may put off visiting their GP for a number of reasons. Some may not realise a symptom like a persistent cough or getting out of breath doing things that you used to be able to do could be a sign of something serious, they may be fearful of what they will find out, or even worry about wasting their GP’s time.

Anyone who has either of these symptoms should visit their GP – don’t worry about wasting our time, we want to see you. The more people we can encourage to get their symptoms checked, the more likely they are to be diagnosed earlier and treated successfully.”

The film can be viewed here. It will be aired across Black and Asian TV channels from Thursday 21st July and run until 16th October. For further information about the signs and symptoms of lung cancer, lung disease and heart disease, search ‘Be Clear on Cancer’.


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