Celebrities back lung cancer campaign in Newham

If you have been coughing for three weeks, go see your doctor - that is the message from Ricky Gervais.

The actor together with Lynda Bellingham is fronting a new campaign to increase awareness of the key symptoms of lung cancer and improve earlier diagnosis in north east London and the City.

This national campaign builds on the ‘small c’ campaign which alerts people to the warning signs of cancer and the need to visit the doctor without delay.

New data reveals that only one in 101 people know that a persistent cough for three weeks or more could be a symptom of lung cancer and if dealt with early could save their life.

The majority of people with lung cancer survive if the disease is caught early, yet public awareness of the symptoms are much lower compared to knowledge of other cancer signs.

Lung cancer affects 33,000 people in England. In East London and the City about 300 people a year are diagnosed with lung cancer and on average about 250 people die from the disease annually.

The majority of cases occur in people over the age of 55. When diagnosed at its earliest stage, as many as 80 per cent of people are alive five years after diagnosis compared with only seven per cent diagnosed at a late stage. Actor and comedian, Ricky Gervais, whose mother died of lung cancer at the age of 74, said: “It’s devastating when you see someone you love dying from lung cancer. It’s a horrible, horrible disease. My mother’s death was very sudden and you can’t help wondering if things would have been different had it been spotted earlier.

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“If you’ve had a bad cough for three weeks and you can’t get rid of it, just make an appointment with your GP today.”

The adverts will appear on TV, radio, online and in newspapers in England for eight weeks until the end of June.