A campaign urging people with a persistent cough to visit a doctor has seen a surge of early stage lung cancer diagnoses.
During the period the Be Clear on Cancer campaign was rolled out around 700 extra patients were diagnosed with lung cancer and nearly 300 more received surgery. The campaign urged people who have been coughing for three weeks to see a doctor.
Over 3,000 extra referrals were made by GPs, up 30%, between May and July 2012 according to campaign results analysis led by Cancer Research UK and published in the British Journal of Cancer.
Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “This proves just how successful a simple campaign alerting people to be vigilant about persistent coughing can be. The sooner people recognise changes in their bodies and go to their GP for a check-up, the better their chances if it does turn out to be cancer.
“Earlier diagnosis combined with pioneering research means we can make real progress in treating lung cancer – a devastating disease that has killed millions of people.”
A survey of 1,100 people conducted following the campaign showed that, when prompted, 33% were aware that a cough lasting more than three weeks was a lung cancer symptom, compared to 18% prior to the campaign.
Dr Mick Peake, lung cancer expert, consultant in respiratory medicine at the University of Hospitals of Leicester and lead author of the paper, said: “We were surprised to see so many more patients diagnosed with lung cancer at an early stage of their disease and then to see than being translated into a significant increase in the number of patients going on to have potentially curative surgery is hugely encouraging.
“If maintained, this effect could really result in a fall in the number of patients who die from lung cancer in the longer term.”