Around 139,053 people have been diagnosed with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease – a common form of lung disease that includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis) and around 264,687 with coronary heart disease.
However, earlier diagnosis of these diseases has the potential to save lives.
For instance, 83% of people diagnosed with lung cancer at the earliest stage (stage 1) will live for at least a year after diagnosis. At the latest stage (stage 4), this drops to 17%. Around 4,061 people die from the disease in the South-East each year.
Earlier diagnosis can also improve the quality of life of those living with conditions such as COPD.
Public Health England today (Thursday July 14) launches a new ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign with the aim of raising awareness of the symptoms of lung cancer, lung disease and heart disease.
Across England, lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer, accounting for around 28,400 deaths each year, while COPD is the cause of a further 24,000 deaths annually. Coronary heart disease (the main type of heart disease) is the single biggest cause of death, accounting for over 56,000 deaths in England each year.
A persistent cough or getting out of breath doing everyday tasks that you used to be able to do, such as mowing the lawn or vacuuming, could be a sign of lung cancer or other lung disease.
Breathlessness could be a sign of heart disease as well. The campaign encourages anyone experiencing these symptoms to see their GP as finding these conditions early makes them more treatable.
The campaign is aimed at men and women aged 50 and over, as older people are most at risk of lung cancer, COPD and heart disease.
It will build on the success of the previous ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ lung cancer campaigns and a regional breathlessness pilot (which focused on lung and heart disease), making this the first national campaign of its kind to jointly raise awareness of these conditions.
Professor Kevin Fenton, Public Health England National Director for Health and Wellbeing said: “If lung cancer, lung disease or heart disease are diagnosed early, they can be managed and treated successfully. This campaign will help people recognise the symptoms and encourage them to seek help, potentially saving lives from what are three of the biggest causes of death in England.”
Diana Grice Centre Director at Public Health England South East said: “It is important to raise awareness of the symptoms of respiratory illness and ensure people know the early warning signs to look out for. Lung cancer, lung disease and heart disease are amongst the biggest killers in the country and earlier diagnosis of these diseases has the potential to save lives. If you find you get out of breath doing things you used to be able to do or if you have had a cough for three weeks or more, tell your doctor. Chances are it’s probably nothing serious, but it could be a sign of something else that needs treatment, so don’t ignore the symptoms or put off a trip to your GP.”
The nationwide ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign will run until October 16. For further information about the signs and symptoms of lung cancer, other lung diseases and heart disease, search ‘Be Clear on Cancer’.
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