UK & World News
Persistent Cough 'Could Be Lung Cancer Sign'
A cough that "lasts for three weeks" is the focus of a new campaign to increase awareness of lung cancer symptoms and improve earlier diagnosis in England.
New figures reveal that 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 in England, this symptom fares worse in public awareness compared to knowledge of other cancer signs, according to Cancer Research.
Care Services Minister Paul Burstow said: "Lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer in this country but worryingly many people don't know the signs and symptoms that could save their lives.
"The earlier lung cancer is diagnosed, the better the chance of survival."
Retired social worker Ann Long was diagnosed with lung cancer eight years ago. The 75-year-old from Formby had been suffering from a cough for five weeks.
Mrs Long told Sky News: "I hadn't given it much notice until I realised it wasn't going away.
"If you have a cough for several weeks then go to your doctor.
"It doesn't necessarily mean you have cancer but you never know."
The new campaign is being supported by a host of celebrities, many of whom have been touched by the disease in some way.
Several high profile individuals including Ricky Gervais, Alex Ferguson, Duncan Bannatyne, Lynda Bellingham and Linda Robson have lent their support by participating in a photography exhibition holding x-ray images of healthy lungs.
Lung cancer affects 33,000 people every year in England with the majority of cases occurring in people over the age of 55.
When diagnosed at its earliest stage, as many as 80% of people are alive five years after diagnosis compared with only 7% diagnosed at a late stage.
British actor and comedian, Ricky Gervais, whose mother died of lung cancer at the age of 74, said: "It's devastating when you see someone you love dying from lung cancer.It's a horrible, horrible disease.
"My mother's death was very sudden and you can't help wondering if things would have been different had it been spotted earlier. If you've had a bad cough for three weeks and you can't get rid of it, just make an appointment with your GP today."
Professor Sir Mike Richards, National Cancer Director for England, said: "It is vital that cancer patients get treated quickly so they have the best chance of surviving.
"Earlier diagnosis of lung cancer, combined with the best treatments, could help save an additional 1,300 lives a year."
Sarah Woolnough, Cancer Research UK's director of policy, said: "We welcome this campaign and believe the message is clear - getting an early diagnosis of lung cancer could save your life."
The adverts will appear on TV, radio, online and in newspapers in England until the end of June.