Sir Andrew Strauss has backed an NHS and Public Health England campaign urging people to see their GP if they test negative for COVID-19 but have had a cough for more than three weeks.
On 15 February NHS and Public Health England launched a major new drive encouraging people to get checked by a GP if they have lung cancer symptoms.
Research commissioned by the NHS and Public Health England found that almost half of people do not know that a persistent cough for more than three weeks can be a lung cancer symptom. And two thirds of people, 61%, would not make an appointment with their GP if they had a cough lasting three weeks or more and had tested negative for coronavirus.
Although symptoms of non-smoking lung cancer can present very differently and can be harder to diagnose, Sir Andrew’s story within the campaign has allowed us to put a spotlight on non-smoking lung cancers, to which Ruth lost her life in 2018.
Professor Peter Johnson, National Clinical Director for Cancer for NHS England, said:
“If you have had a negative Covid test but are still coughing after three weeks, do not delay – you must come forward to get a lung cancer check. Otherwise, we are going to see people with cancer that’s become more advanced and much harder to treat.
“It is understandable that people haven’t wanted to trouble the health service during the pandemic or have been worried about attending appointments because of the Covid risk. However, the risk of a cancer that you don’t pay attention to is much greater than the risk of Coronavirus. GP practices have introduced a series of measures to make them Covid-safe. The NHS is open and ready to see anyone with a concerning symptom – it could save your life.”
The ‘Help Us, Help You’ campaign encouraging anyone with an ongoing cough to not delay contacting their GP.
Sir Andrew has joined television presenter Gaby Roslin and others whose lives have been changed by the disease in a film warning not to leave it too late to get a check.
Finding lung cancer early, like other cancers, makes it more treatable.
”“You don’t need to be a smoker to develop lung cancer. It’s important that even young non-smokers who develop a persistent cough of more than 3 weeks, and have tested negative for covid-19, get checked by a doctor.”Sir Andrew StraussRSF Founder & Ruth’s Husband
Non-smoking lung cancer
What are the symptoms of lung cancer in non-smokers?
Very similar to lung cancer symptoms, non-smoking lung cancer symptoms could present as follows:
- A persistent cough.
- Repeated chest infection (upper respiratory infections)
- Trouble breathing or wheezing / shortness of breath
- Blood in coughed up sputum
- Loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss.
- Chest discomfort or pain.
It’s important that even young non-smokers who develop a persistent cough get checked by a doctor. Early testing means early treatment which saves lives. Note that a cough is also a common symptom of COVID-19. It is still important to contact your GP if you have a new or worsening cough. They can speak to you over the phone or by a video call and can arrange for tests if required.