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​Persistent cough or breathlessness?  Get it checked out, say Lewisham GPs ​

GPs across Lewisham are backing a new public health campaign to raise awareness of the importance of getting respiratory problems checked out to rule out underlying health problems.

A persistent cough lasting more than three weeks or inappropriate breathlessness during everyday activities such as vacuuming or mowing the lawn could be symptoms of a variety of conditions, including cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and, in the case of breathlessness, heart disease.

"Diagnosing lung and heart disease early makes them more treatable" explains Dr Marc Rowland, local GP and Chair of NHS Lewisham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). "Earlier diagnosis can also help with the management of some conditions, such as COPD, and thereby improve your quality of life if you're living with the condition."

"People aged 50 and over are at greater risk of having undiagnosed respiratory problems and make up 97 per cent of lung cancer diagnoses, so if you fall within this age group it's particularly important to get any unusual symptoms checked out."

In Lewisham, around 190 people are diagnosed with lung cancer every year, which is higher than the national average.  On the back of the Be Clear on Cancer campaign that ran in 2015, around 400 more people across the country had their cancer diagnosed at an earlier stage, and awareness of heart and lung diseases increased significantly – showing that knowledge really is power when it comes to looking after your own health.

If you've had a persistent cough lasting more than three weeks or inappropriate breathlessness, make an appointment to speak to your GP.

You can find out more about the Be Clear on Cancer campaign at