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Raising awareness of lung cancer in Lewisham 

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and we're reminding people about the signs and symptoms of the disease.   

In Lewisham, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death.

Local GP and Lewisham CCG Clinical Director, Dr Esther Appleby, said: "The earlier someone is diagnosed as having lung cancer, the better the changes of survival.

"However, lung cancer is often diagnosed at a later stage because people delay seeking help for their symptoms.  Although, in most cases there would be another explanation, some symptoms need to be discussed with your doctor because sometimes they may be symptoms of cancer."

These symptoms include:

  • A cough that doesn't go away after two or three weeks.
  • A long-standing cough that gets worse.
  • Chest infections that keep coming back.
  • Coughing up blood.
  • An ache or pain when breathing or coughing.
  • Persistent breathlessness.
  • Persistent tiredness or lack of energy.
  • Loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss.

Dr Appleby added: "The vast majority of lung cancers are caused by smoking, so if you are a smoker or have smoked in the past, it's important not to ignore any of these symptoms.

"However, as there are also other risk factors such as air pollution and passive smoking, it's important to see your GP even if you're a non-smoker and notice these things."

Giving up smoking is the best way to reduce your risk of developing lung cancer and many other serious illness.  Even if you've smoked for a long time, it's never too late to stop. After 10 years of not smoking, the chances of you developing lung cancer falls to half of someone who smokes.

If you'd like to stop smoking, NHS Smokefree can offer advice and support to help you quit. You can call 0300 123 1044, or visit the website.

A GP or pharmacist can also give you advice about stopping smoking.

Nationally, five-year survival rates for lung cancer have doubled over the last 15 years but are still only 15 per cent. In comparison, among all people with melanoma of the skin, from the time of initial diagnosis, the five-year survival is 92 per cent.

Find out more about lung cancer, its causes and how to prevent it, here on the NHS website