65-year-old Nasim is recovering from lung cancer following removal of part of her left lung.
Now roadshow tours England have been organised to encourage South Asian community to act on early lung cancer symptoms
The NHS will visit thousands of people in England’s lung cancer hotspots with giant inflatable lungs this month, to raise awareness of potential cancer symptoms and help catch cancer earlier.
The Let’s Talk Lung Cancer roadshow, run between NHS England and Roy Castle Lung Foundation, kicks off as new survey data reveals that just a third of (33%) South Asians respondents would see their GP if they had a cough for three weeks or more. While more than a quarter (28%) of South Asian individuals surveyed believe that lung cancer only affects smokers.
Over half (55%) of South Asian survey respondents also believed that or were unsure whether lung cancer only affects a small amount of people every year in England, when in fact it’s the leading cause of cancer deaths in the UK.
Nasim, 65, is recovering from lung cancer following removal of part of her left lung.
She initially went to see her GP as she was losing weight and didn’t know why.
“I have never smoked, so I didn’t ever think it could be lung cancer. However, when my friends and family started pointing out that I was looking thin I thought I should get checked out.”
Diagnosing lung cancer early dramatically increases people’s chances of survival – those diagnosed at stages one or two are nearly 20 times more likely to survive for five years or more than those whose cancer is caught at later stages. As such, Nasim wants to encourage more people to come forward if they have symptoms.
She said: “The best thing that could come from my diagnosis and treatment would be that others read my story and go and see their GP as a result.
“If you’ve had a cough for three weeks or more, or something feels not quite right, please get medical advice and give yourself the best chance.”
As part of the roadshow, specialist teams of volunteers will assist the campaign to educate the public and help catch more cancers early. Thousands of people are expected to see the giant inflatable lungs in communities across the country – including supermarkets, shopping centres and local high streets – with the public urged to get checked if they have signs and symptoms.
The inflatable organs allow visitors to observe and learn about typical lung structures, lung health, and the effects of smoking.
Community engagement teams and volunteers will be on hand to talk to members of the public and encourage those with suspected symptoms to visit their GP as soon as possible.
This comes as survey data also shows that just over a third (34%) of South Asian people surveyed would visit their GP if they had a chest infection that kept coming back, and a similar percentage would do the same if they had a loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss (36%), which are lesser-known signs of lung cancer.
Dr. Jyoti Sood says: “Tens of thousands of people are diagnosed with lung cancer every year in England, but it’s clear from the survey that many people in our community still think it’s not something that can affect them.
“This campaign is really important in raising awareness of the symptoms – like a cough lasting for three weeks or more – and encouraging people to get seen by a medical professional as early as possible. We know that early diagnosis gives the best chance of effective treatment and survival.”
Chief Executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, Paula Chadwick, adds: “It is staggering that so many of those surveyed still do not know how prevalent lung cancer is. We believe this stems from a reluctance, even aversion, to talking about lung cancer, and that is largely because of its links to smoking and associated stigma.
“That’s why these events are so important. They give us the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with people who may not realise they are at risk, who may not recognise potential symptoms or could feel unable to act on them.
“If we can help just one person get diagnosed earlier when lung cancer can be treated more easily, then that is worth doing.”
The roadshow will travel around the country throughout the month of November – Lung Cancer Awareness Month – as part of the NHS Help Us, Help You campaign. The roadshow aims to begin conversations about the illness and its symptoms.
The NHS’s Help Us, Help You lung cancer campaign focuses specifically on raising awareness of the key symptom of lung cancer – a cough that lasts for three weeks or more. While it might seem like nothing serious, if it is cancer, finding it early means it’s more treatable and can save lives. The campaign will encourage those who have this symptom to contact their GP practice and remind the public that the NHS wants to see them.
In addition to the symptom of a cough for three weeks or more, other symptoms of lung cancer include:
· chest infections that keep coming back
· coughing up blood
· a long-standing cough that gets worse
· an ache or pain when breathing or coughing
· persistent breathlessness
· persistent tiredness or lack of energy
· loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss.