Scots are being urged to see their GP if they have been coughing for three weeks or more in a bid to boost early detection of lung cancer.
With latest analysis showing you are almost 20 times more likely to survive lung cancer if it is detected early, the Scottish Government’s lung cancer campaign is highlighting the importance of getting a persistent cough checked.
Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers in Scotland with 5,000 new cases diagnosed each year, and lung cancer rates in women have almost doubled in Scotland over the past 40 years.
Experts say one reason patients are diagnosed so late is that they are unaware of the symptoms which include a persistent cough, chest pain, breathlessness and weight loss.
Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “The disease can develop slowly over a number of years and often causes no pain.
“It is much more treatable than it used to be but being switched on to the symptoms and acting quickly to have them checked by a GP are crucial.
“If you do notice any changes to your cough, don’t ignore it, contact your GP – you won’t be wasting anyone’s time.”
The campaign is fronted by Sir Alex Ferguson, who lost both parents to the disease.
He said: “Everyone should be aware of the signs of lung cancer.
“If you or someone you know has a cough that won’t clear up, don’t ignore it.
“With higher survival rates for people who seek help at an earlier stage, it’s worthwhile raising it with your GP sooner rather than later.”
This latest drive is part of the Detect Cancer Early programme which aims to increase the proportion of people who are diagnosed in the early stages of breast, bowel and lung cancer by 25 per cent by the end of 2015.
Encouraging Scots to visit their GP if they have any concerns, Glasgow-based GP Dr Douglas Rigg added: “If you have a cough for three weeks or more, your GP wants to see you.
“For most people it isn’t a serious problem, but it does need to be checked because a long lasting cough can be a sign of lung cancer.
“The earlier lung cancer is found, the easier it is to treat and the better your chance of survival. You shouldn’t worry about wasting our time because the sooner we see you, the easier it is for us to help.
“The initial tests are straightforward and can be arranged quickly, so don’t put it off.
“If you, or someone close to you has noticed a cough for more than three weeks, make an appointment to speak with your GP now. It could save your life.”