Public Health England (PHE) has launched a campaign urging people to see a doctor if they are getting out of breath doing things they used to be able to do or if they’ve had a cough for three weeks or more.
Breathlessness or a persistent cough can be signs of lung disease or lung cancer. Breathlessness can also be a sign of heart disease.
These diseases are some of the leading causes of death in England, causing more than 150,000 deaths each year combined.
Early diagnosis can save lives and improve the quality of life of those living with conditions, such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a common form of lung disease that includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
The most recent data shows that in the North West there are over 180,000 people who have been diagnosed with COPD and 285,381 people who have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease (CHD), the main type of heart disease.In 2015, 6,412 people were diagnosed with lung cancer.
The ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign is aimed at men and women aged 50 and above as these people are most at risk of lung cancer, COPD and heart disease.
As well as prompting anyone who experiences these symptoms to visit their GP, the campaign calls on people to look out for each other and encourage friends and family to visit the GP if they have either of these symptoms.
The campaign reassures individuals that they would not be wasting their GP’s time by getting their symptoms checked out; something that 36% of adults surveyed in the region said they would be worried about.
Dr Graham Wardman, Consultant in Screening and Immunisation, Health Care Public Health (Greater Manchester), said: “We would like to see earlier diagnosis of these conditions across the region. Recognising the symptoms of these diseases and going to the doctor promptly can lead to an earlier diagnosis when these conditions are more treatable.
“Coughing for three weeks or more or becoming breathless doing things you used to be able to do, could be a sign of something serious, so it is important to get them checked out.”
The ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign runs until 31 August 2017. For further information about the signs and symptoms of lung cancer, lung disease and heart disease, search ‘Be Clear on Cancer’