When does a winter cough become a cancer warning? When it lasts for more than three weeks, according to consultant lung specialist Dr Sarah Doffman.
Now, as part of Lung Cancer Awareness Month, Dr Doffman is calling on people with ’long-term’ coughs or chest infections to visit their GP to ensure they aren’t suffering from something much more serious.
“I realise that there will be lots of coughs, colds and chest problems doing the rounds this winter but anything that is still hanging around after three weeks needs checking by a doctor,” she said.
Dr Doffman, who runs the Lung Cancer Screening Clinic at The Montefiore Hospital in Hove, explained: “One of the main problems with diagnosing lung cancer is that there are very few signs or symptoms at the very early stage. That is why acting upon lingering coughs or chest problems can be so important.”
While smoking is the main cause of lung cancer, around one in eight people with lung cancer have never smoked so it is important to look out for other tell-tale signs which include:
- Repeated chest infections
- A long-term cough
- Coughing up blood
- Feeling more tired than usual
- Losing weight for no obvious reason
- An ache or pain in your chest or shoulder.
“Our best weapon in the fight against lung cancer is early detection so it is important that people know the signals to look out for and how to react if they spot any of them. A GP will be able to give you an expert opinion and, if they think it needs further investigation, will put you on the right healthcare pathway,” added Dr Doffman.