Dr Zuhair Zarifa, chairman of Newham CCG and GP says if you cough for three weeks see your GP

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- Credit: Archant

If you have had a cough for three weeks or more you should make an appointment to see your GP. It may be nothing serious, but if you are, or have been a smoker, and are suffering from breathlessness as well, it could be an early symptom of lung cancer.

Every year more than 3,500 people in London are diagnosed with lung cancer and 2,900 die from it. In east London, about 300 people a year are diagnosed with lung cancer and on average about 250 people die from the disease annually.

November is lung cancer awareness month. The campaign lasts a whole month because the biggest problem we have with the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer is people do not seek help from their GP soon enough. The earlier you get to see your GP, the earlier we can help or refer you to a specialist if it is something serious. If you have a persistent cough, shortness of breath or coughing up blood, make an appointment to see your GP and get the help you need.

If your doctor is concerned, he or she may send you for a chest X-ray. Taking an X-ray is quick, simple and nothing to worry about. And if you know anyone who has any of these symptoms, insist they see their doctor. It’s probably nothing serious but they should get it checked out.

A good way to prevent lung cancer is to stop smoking. Ninety per cent of lung cancer is caused by smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke. Stopping smoking will greatly reduce your risk and that of people you love developing lung cancer. NHS Stop Smoking services are free, effective, and available at times and places to suit you. Call 0800 013 1673 or click on to smokefree.nhs.uk. More from Dr Zarifa

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