Could three-week cough be cancer? Get it checked, East London GPs urge

Doctors want anyone with a cough that has lasted three or more weeks to get it checked

Doctors want anyone with a cough that has lasted three or more weeks to get it checked - Credit: Archant

Doctors across east London are warning people who have had a cough for more than three weeks to see their GP as it could be cancer.

They want residents in Newham and Tower Hamlets to be clear on the signs of lung cancer and to see their GP particularly if the cough has persisted for three or more weeks.

Lung cancer is currently England’s biggest cancer killer, causing around 28,000 deaths each year, with 2,843 cases in London. Those diagnosed at the earliest stage are five times more likely to survive the disease than those diagnosed at a late stage and leading GPs in the two boroughs say it is vital to get tell-tale early signs such as a three week cough checked.

One of the reasons behind London’s low early diagnosis rate is the public’s lack of awareness about the disease and its symptoms. New figures show:

• 68 per cent of people in London are unaware that lung cancer is England’s biggest cancer killer

• Despite the fact that lung cancer is most common in people aged over 50, 22 per cent of people in London think that all age groups are equally at risk of lung cancer

• 41 per cent of people are unaware that a cough that has lasted three weeks or more is a potential symptom of lung cancer.

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Dr Sam Everington, chairman of NHS Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group and a local GP said: “The NHS is here to help but it is really important for people to be aware of the early signs of potential lung cancers so they know what to look for and when to seek advice.

“If you have had a cough for the last three weeks then make an appointment to see your GP to get it checked out.”

Dr Zuhair Zarifa, chairman of NHS Newham Clinical Commissioning Group and a local GP said: “Spotting diseases such as lung cancer early is where we start making a difference and helping more people survive.

“Make yourself aware of the signs and if you have the symptoms go and see a GP sooner rather than later.”

The Be Clear on Cancer campaign includes adverts – fronted by real GPs – on TV, in newspapers and on radio stations from now until the end of August. It also features Dr Frank Chinegwundoh, a consultant urologist at Barts Health NHS Trust.

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