Jen appeared on Daybreak on Wednesday 31st of October 2012 to launch a feature on lung cancer awareness week which started on Tuesday the 30th of October.
What is lung cancer awareness month?
Lung Cancer Awareness Month takes place every November across the world, to raise awareness of the symptoms of lung cancer
This year, the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation is launching its I Love My Lungs tour of the UK, which will see the world’s only inflatable, walk-through giant lungs visiting towns & cities across the UK to raise awareness of symptoms
Why is it so important?
Only one in 10 people know that a persistent cough for three weeks or more could be a symptom of lung cancer
Despite the disease killing more people than any other form of cancer, it fares worse in public awareness compared to knowledge of other cancer signs:
• 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)
If caught early enough, lung cancer can be cured. If caught in the early stages, the five-year survival rate is 80 per cent. If allowed to spread, that figure drops to 7 per cent.
What are the main symptoms to look for?
The main signs and symptoms of lung cancer are:
A cough that doesn’t go away after two or three weeks
Worsening or change to long standing cough
Repeated chest infections
Coughing up blood
Unexplained persistent breathlessness
Unexplained persistent tiredness
Unexplained persistent weight loss
Persistent chest and/or shoulder pain
More detailed info
Why is lung cancer such a problem?
Lung cancer is the UK’s biggest cancer killer – accounting for a more than a fifth of all cancer deaths .1
It kills almost 35,000 people each year1 – that is 96 people every day or one person every 15 minutes.
The death toll from lung cancer is more than breast cancer, prostate cancer, bladder cancer and leukaemia combined.2
Half of all people diagnosed with lung cancer die within six months.3
However, lung cancer can be cured if diagnosed early enough.
How many people are affected by lung cancer in the UK?
Around 41,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer each year (23,000 men and 18,000 women).7
It is reported that four people die from lung cancer in the UK every hour (one every fifteen minutes).1
What is the average survival of someone diagnosed with lung cancer in the UK?
Half of all lung cancer patients die within six months of diagnosis.3
Currently, only three (29.4%) out of ten of men with lung cancer in England will live for a year and less than one in ten (7.8% in England) are still alive five years after diagnosis.6
For women, these figures are 33% and 9.3% respectively.6
However, when diagnosed early, many patients can be cured.
How does this compare with other countries?
UK survival rates lag significantly behind UK other comparable EU countries – as well as Sweden, Denmark, Norway Australia and Canada.12
Estimates suggests that 3,500 UK deaths from lung cancer could be avoided each year if UK rates were brought in line with the European average.15
Why is lung cancer survival in the UK so poor?
Poor survival from lung cancer is a result of a wide variety of factors. These are as follows:
uncertainty among people as to when to seek help, not recognizing the symptoms and not seeking help until it is ‘too late’;
reluctance to seek help due to the symptoms thought to be due just to smoking
difficulty amongst GPs in identifying suspicious symptoms early enough;
time taken to progress from first appointment through to diagnostic tests onto treatment is too lengthy in some areas;
a variation in quality and provision of cancer services across the country – as a result, not all patients are receiving the optimal treatment; for example, the proportion of patients who are treated by surgery varies from around 9.8% to nearly 17% between different areas of the UK.8
decades of under-investment in people and equipment. Whilst many aspects of these problems have been addressed over the last 10 years, there is still limited capacity for specialist surgery, specialist oncology and specialist nursing in many areas.
lack of screening programmes. Many other cancers have benefited from the development of screening programmes. Research into lung cancer screening has been very slow to be supported in the UK but we are delighted that a pilot study is underway.
patients in the UK may be generally less healthy, with more co-existing illnesses, and therefore less likely to be fit for such things as major surgery.