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News - RD&E supports new lung cancer awareness campaign

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The Royal Devon & Exeter hospital has backed the new ‘Be clear on cancer’ campaign promoting awareness to get an earlier diagnosis of lung cancer.

Despite lung cancer killing more people than any other form of cancer in England, public awareness of the symptoms to look out for and when to seek medical advice is poor.


Lung cancer affects 33,000 people every year in England with the majority of cases occurring 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 later stage.

Royal Devon & Exeter Consultant oncologist Dr Liz Toy said:  “Sadly by the time many people meet a lung cancer specialist the cancer has spread to other areas of the body, limiting what treatments we are able to offer them. We hope that by raising awareness of symptoms we will make the diagnosis at an early enough stage for patients to benefit from new highly effective radiotherapy and surgical techniques which may allow them to be cured.  Dr Liz Toy, Oncologist


Although being diagnosed with cancer is devastating for both the patient and their families, clinical trials have brought great advances in tailoring treatment to individual patients, allowing them a better quality of life. Unfortunately across the UK almost a third of patients have needed admission to hospital before the diagnosis of lung cancer is made and are too unwell to benefit from these treatments. Catching the disease earlier will prevent a large number of cancer deaths.”

An information stand will be in the main public restaurant at the RD&E Wonford hospital to raise awareness among hospital visitors.


RD&E patient Jill Summers, aged 79, said: “I came back from an overseas trip and thought I had a cold. Then I was walking to the top of a hill in Sidmouth where I live and found myself breathless. I carried on for another 10 days or so before going to see my GP. After having tests and scans at the RD&E it came as a dreadful shock to be told I had lung cancer. I had eight lots of chemotherapy between April and July 2009 and then in October 2011 the pain came back and I am now on tablets. I try to be as positive and active as I can, whilst I can.”


Retired engineer Christopher Earle, who was diagnosed with lung cancer in February 2010, said: “I had a tickle in my throat which annoyed me and was having hot sweats so I went to see a doctor who listened to my chest and sent me for an x-ray. I was not expecting to be told I had cancer. I had given up smoking 20 years ago. My treatment included radiotherapy. Not being able to play golf and running out of puff is frustrating but I am still here and able to enjoy our 11 grandchildren.”


Background information about the ‘Be clear on cancer’ campaign


A cough that lasts for three weeks will be the focus of a new campaign – backed by Ricky Gervais and Linda Bellingham - to increase awareness of the key symptoms of lung cancer and improve earlier diagnosis in England, Health Minister Paul Burstow announced today.

New data reveals that only one in 10 people know that a persistent cough for three weeks or more could be a symptom of lung cancer. Research into awareness levels conducted via face to face interviews with 1023 people aged 55 years and over. Conducted in September to October 2011 by TNS England BMRB and if dealt with early could save their life.

Despite the disease killing more people than any other form of cancer in England, this symptom fares worse in public awareness compared to knowledge of other cancer signs Cancer Awareness Measure data for Cancer Research UK 2010 based on a survey of 2090 UK respondents:

  • 69 per cent are aware of looking out for a lump (breast or testicular cancer)

  • 31 per cent know that bleeding could be a sign of cancer (bowel, kidney or bladder);

  • and 25 per cent know that a change in the appearance of a mole should also prompt a check-up (skin cancer).

Care Services Minister Paul Burstow said: “Lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer in this country but worryingly many people don’t know the signs and symptoms that could save their lives. The earlier lung cancer is diagnosed, the better the chance of survival. The message from this campaign is simple; if you have a persistent cough for three weeks or more, visit your GP.”


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