Wales

Lung cancer awareness campaign call to Public Health Wales

  • 24 June 2014
  • From the section Wales
Coloured chest X-ray showing lung cancer Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Lung cancer accounts for over a fifth of cancer deaths

Lung cancer campaigners have called on health officials to warn people about the symptoms of the biggest cancer killer in Wales.

It accounts for more than a fifth of cancer deaths, more than bowel and breast cancer combined, according to a recent report from Public Health Wales.

The UK Lung Cancer Coalition said Wales also had one of the lowest survival rates in Europe for the disease.

The Welsh government accepted it had to go further in tackling lung cancer.

The call by a collection of charities, experts, professionals and healthcare companies follows a report on cancer in Wales from Public Health Wales in April which revealed lung cancer killed nearly 1,900 people in Wales in 2012 - 22% of the total number of deaths from cancer.

Lung cancer sufferers were also 12 times less likely to survive up to five years after diagnosis compared to people with breast cancer, according to the report.

Media captionDr Ian Lewis, director of research and policy at the charity Tenovus, says an early diagnosis was important

Outcomes for lung cancer patients also remain poor in Wales when compared to other UK and European countries.

Dr Ian Lewis, director of research and policy at Cardiff-based cancer charity Tenovus, said: "More can be done to alert people to the signs and symptoms of this devastating disease in order to ensure earlier diagnosis and increase chances of survival."

"People don't like to bother their doctor and that's an issue for people not getting diagnosed early enough and not getting treatment.

"Prognosis overall for lung cancer is poor but if discovered early enough the success for treatment is improved greatly."


LUNG CANCER SURVIVOR'S STORY

Image copyright Mags Roberts

Mags Roberts, 58, from Cardiff, was diagnosed with lung cancer at the age of 52 after feeling breathless while walking up a hill in Pembrokeshire.

She said: "I was quite shocked as I'd never smoked so I never thought I'd get it.

"I wasn't ill in bed - I was going to work every day."

Mrs Roberts had to take early retirement from her job as a secondary school teacher for treatment with chemotherapy followed by courses of tablets which she continues to take to this day.

"I've got to live with it but I'm really fortunate to have a fantastic medical team looking after me and the support of my family and friends," said Mrs Roberts.

"It was only because I'd had asthma as a child that I thought of going to the doctor to check - it was lucky I went really.

"I'm really positive about life - I wake up every day and feel keen to make the most of it."


A Welsh government spokesperson said: "The Welsh NHS is spending more than ever on cancer care and while Wales has shown the biggest improvement in overall cancer survival rates of all UK nations, we need to go further when it comes to lung cancer.

"From this year all GPs will have to review every diagnosis of lung cancer to improve awareness and skills to support earlier diagnosis."

Dr Peter Bradley, executive director of public health development at Public Health Wales, said the organisation was already taking steps including anti-smoking campaigns.

He added: "We have also carried out a review of the way we support people to stay healthy, and invested in a wide ranging strategy to help us work towards a healthier, happier and fairer Wales."


General symptoms of lung cancer

  • Having a cough most of the time
  • A change in a cough you have had for a long time
  • Being short of breath
  • Coughing up phlegm (sputum) with signs of blood in it
  • An ache or pain when breathing or coughing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tiredness
  • Losing weight

Source: Cancer Research UK


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