This Lung Cancer Awareness Month, Doctor Bakare Urges The Black Community To Recognise Lung Cancer Symptoms

• Lung cancer is the third most common cancer in England with around 39,990 cases diagnosed each year
• Around 89% of those diagnosed with lung cancer are aged 60 and over
• In 2019, lung cancer accounted for 12% of all cancer diagnoses in England and 20% of all cancer deaths
• Over 60% of those diagnosed with stage 1 lung cancer have a five-year survival rate compared to just 4% for those diagnosed later.

Lung cancer referrals were slow to recover since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, despite being a leading cause of cancer death. A GP is speaking out, during Lung Cancer Awareness Month, as new data shows that xx% of Black people do not know that a persistent cough for over three weeks could be a sign of the deadly disease.

Dr Seun Bakare, GP Clinical Lead for Urgent Care, who is supporting the NHS lung cancer campaign, is passionate about changing attitudes within the Black community, which can keep people from contacting their GP practice and delaying medical help.

“Some of us are apprehensive about seeing our GP if we think something is wrong, but if you or a loved one has had a cough for over three weeks, it’s time to make an appointment with your GP,” says Dr Bakare.

Dr Bakare understands that many people in the Black community believe suspected health problems, such as a cough, may work themselves out on their own and do not want to burden loved ones or seek advice before seeing their GP.

“We’re here to help, but we can only do that when you come into the GP surgery,” says Dr Bakare. “As the weather becomes colder, it’s quite normal to experience a cough or a cold. But a cough lasting more than three weeks could be a sign of lung cancer, so don’t wait around for it to disappear. It’s probably nothing to worry about, but if it is cancer,
finding it early will make it easier to treat.”

Here, Dr Bakare answers some of the most common questions about lung cancer:

I thought only people who smoked who got lung cancer?

No. While smoking is a leading risk factor for lung cancer, it can also occur in people who have never smoked or stopped smoking. Who can get lung cancer? Anyone can get lung cancer – there is
no single cause. People of any age and background can be diagnosed with the disease but it’s more likely to affect people over the age of 60.

What are the common symptoms of lung cancer?

As well as a persistent cough for more than three weeks, you should be on the lookout for coughing up blood, feeling out of breath when doing normal tasks and any aches or pain when breathing or coughing.
Unexpected tiredness and weight loss are also common symptoms. If you or your loved one has any of these symptoms, please contact your GP right away.

What should I do if I’ve been coughing for more than three weeks?

Definitely make an appointment to see your GP as soon as you can. Your GP will ask about your general health and symptoms. They may examine you and ask you to breathe into a device called a spirometer, which measures how much air you breathe in and out. You may also be asked to have a blood test to rule out other possible causes, such as a chest infection.

What are the common causes of lung cancer?

As well as smoking, there are many risk factors because we are constantly inhaling chemicals from our environment. This could be in your workplace, air pollution or exposure to radon gas. Your risk may also be higher if you’ve had a lung disease before or if there’s a family history of lung cancer.

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If you get an early diagnosis, what happens?

The GP will arrange for further tests to investigate the issue. This could be a chest x-ray, CT scan or bronchoscopy. The earlier you see your GP and a diagnosis is made, the earlier treatment can start – increasing the likelihood of survival.

About 1 in 3 people with the condition live for at least 1 year after they’re diagnosed and about 1 in 20 people live at least 10 years. However survival rates vary widely, depending on how far the cancer has spread at the time of diagnosis. Early diagnosis can make a big difference.

Where can I find more information?

For more information, visit

www.nhs.uk/cancersymptoms

If you or a loved one has had a cough for over three weeks, it’s time to make an appointment with your GP

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