Helping the over 50s be clear on cancer

Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group is supporting the national Be Clear on Cancer campaign and encouraging local people, particularly the over 50s, to recognise respiratory symptoms and get the appropriate help where needed. A persistent cough or inappropriate breathlessness during everyday activities could be symptoms of a variety of conditions including cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and, in the case of breathlessness, heart disease.

Dr Andy Hall from The Orchard Partnership in Fovant said:
“People aged 50 or over are at greater risk of having undiagnosed respiratory problems and make up 97 percent of lung cancer diagnoses, so it’s particularly important if you fall within this age group to get any unusual symptoms checked out.”

Diagnosing these conditions at an early stage makes them more amenable to treatment. Those who have a persistent cough lasting more than three weeks, or are experiencing breathlessness when completing everyday tasks, are encouraged to make an appointment with their GP, as they may be exhibiting the early signs of lung disease, including cancer.

Across England, around 37,600 people are diagnosed with lung cancer each year and in Wiltshire during 2015, there were 282 people diagnosed with the condition.  

Dr Hall added:
“Before you visit your GP it may help to write down your symptoms and how you feel so you don’t forget anything during your consultation. This will help answer some of the questions your doctor may ask you, such as how long have you had your symptoms and whether they have changed over time.”

Signs to watch out for:

  • A cough that has got worse or changes
  • Frequent chest infections
  • Coughing up blood
  • Chest or shoulder pain
  • Getting out of breath doing everyday activities such as light housework
  • Feeling more tired than usual for some time
  • Losing weight for no obvious reason, or loss of appetite

Learn more about the Be Clear on Cancer campaign.