- Campaign urges people in West Yorkshire to see a GP if they have breathlessness or a persistent cough, as these are key symptoms of these diseases
- Call comes as new survey reveals that people in Yorkshire and Humber are more likely to encourage others to seek medical help than go themselves[i]
- Early diagnosis is vital to save lives and improve quality of life
Public Health England (PHE) has launched a ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign in Yorkshire and Humber urging people to see a doctor if they are getting out of breath doing things they used to be able to do or if they’ve had a cough for three weeks or more.
Breathlessness or a persistent cough can be signs of lung disease or lung cancer. Breathlessness can also be a sign of heart disease. These diseases are some of the leading causes of death in England, causing more than 150,000 deaths each year combined.
Early diagnosis can save lives and improve the quality of life of those living with conditions, such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a common form of lung disease that includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. The most recent data shows that in West Yorkshire there are around 59,000 people who have been diagnosed with COPD[iii] and some 95,500 people who have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease (CHD), the main type of heart disease.[iv] In 2015, around 1,800 people were diagnosed with lung cancer.[v]
The campaign is aimed at men and women aged 50 and above as these people are most at risk of lung cancer, COPD and heart disease. As well as prompting anyone who experiences these symptoms to visit their GP, the campaign calls on people to look out for each other and encourage friends and family to visit the GP if they have either of these symptoms.
This call comes as a new survey found that adults over 50 in Yorkshire and Humber are more likely to encourage others to see the doctor than go themselves:
- 89% would urge their friends and family to visit their GP with these symptoms;
- Only 69% would contact the GP if they experienced the symptoms themselves.
The survey also found that in Yorkshire and Humber 38% of people would wait for a month or longer before visiting the GP if they experienced breathlessness doing everyday things and 62% would wait over a month before speaking to their GP if they had a persistent cough.
However, the research revealed that people in the area are more likely to visit the GP if their partner recommended it (66%) compared to the national average (60%), showing the importance of recognising the symptoms of heart disease, lung disease and lung cancer in loved ones.
The campaign reassures individuals that they would not be wasting their GP’s time by getting their symptoms checked out; something that 40% of adults surveyed in the region said they would be worried about.
Dr Kevin Smith, from Public Health England in Yorkshire and The Humber, said: “Across Yorkshire and the Humber there are over 129,000 people with COPD and 215,000 with heart disease. The most recent figures showed over 4,400 people were diagnosed with lung cancer over the course of a year. If diagnosed early, these diseases can be managed and treated successfully. If you’ve been coughing for three weeks or more or becoming breathless doing things you used to be able to do, don’t wait: see your doctor and get checked out. ”
Shan Evans, from Hebden Bridge, Supporter of the Roy Castle Lung Foundation, comments: “I was diagnosed with lung cancer after I’d been to see my GP about a cough I had had for four weeks. Luckily, I was diagnosed at an early stage which made it much more treatable, I am now cancer-free and feel fitter than ever! If you have had a cough for three weeks or more then get it checked out. I have seen first-hand how much of a difference an early diagnosis can make.”
Dr Dawn Harper, who is supporting the campaign, comments: “People may put off visiting their GP for a number of reasons. Some may not think getting out of breath doing everyday things could be a sign of something serious, they may put a persistent cough down to an infection, they may be fearful of what they will find out, or even worry about wasting their GP’s time. In many cases, it won’t be anything serious, but it’s so important that people don’t ignore their symptoms or put off a trip to the doctor. You won’t be wasting our time – we want to see you and we want to help.”
A Be Clear on Cancer roadshow will be visiting Yorkshire and Humber to raise awareness of the signs of heart disease, lung cancer and lung disease and to encourage those with symptoms to visit their GP.
The roadshow team, which includes a nurse, will be handing out leaflets and talking to anyone who has any questions. The team will also be speaking to people about recognising the symptoms in others, as they can play a key part in encouraging loved ones to see their GP.
The roadshow will be at
- The Packhorse shopping centre in Huddersfield on Friday 14 and Saturday 15 July
- Kirkgate shopping centre in Bradford on Monday 17 and Tuesday 18 July
- Frenchgate shopping centre in Doncaster on Wednesday 19 and Thursday 20 July
- Freshney Place shopping centre in Grimsby on Friday 21 and Saturday 22 July
The ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign runs until 31 August 2017. For further information about the signs and symptoms of lung cancer, lung disease and heart disease, search ‘Be Clear on Cancer’