Doctor warns about persistent coughs as 200 people a year in Brighton and Hove contract lung cancer

Posted On 21 Nov 2016 at 7:08 pm

A senior doctor has warned about the dangers of ignoring a persistent cough, with 180 to 200 cases of lung cancer being diagnosed each year in Brighton and Hove.

The warning, from respiratory consultant Sarah Doffman, comes during Lung Cancer Awareness Month, which runs throughout November.

Dr Doffman said: “A persistent cough could be a sign of an underlying disease, such as lung cancer, so the sooner it is detected and diagnosed the better the chances of treating it successfully.

“There are many treatments available for lung cancer, and an increasing number of patients are cured completely.”

Dr Sarah Doffman

Dr Sarah Doffman

While plenty of people pick up a cough as the cold weather sets in, Dr Doffman said that a cough lasting three weeks or more could be something more serious than “a bit of a cold”.

If a cough fails to clear, patients are urged to see their GP (general practitioner) rather than just waiting to see if it gets better by itself.

And those who smoke may cough more regularly, in which case, recognising a change in that cough is equally as important.

Dr Doffman, a respiratory consultant at the Spire Montefiore Hospital in Hove, said that campaigns to encourage to people to go to their GP with a persistent cough are helping the early detection of lung cancer.

But they are also unmasking other conditions such as emphysema, asthma and bronchiectasis – conditions which also benefit from early treatment.

While smoking is the main cause of lung cancer, about one in eight people with lung cancer have never smoked.

She said that it was important to look out for other tell-tale signs which include

Repeated chest infections

  • Coughing up blood
  • Breathlessness
  • Feeling more tired than usual
  • Losing weight for no obvious reason
  • An ache or pain in the chest or shoulder
  • According to statistics released by Cancer Research UK, there were more than 45,000 new cases of lung cancer diagnosed in 2013 – and in 2014 almost 36,000 people died from the disease.

    However, one-year and five-year survival rates for lung cancer have increased significantly, with new treatments becoming available at an ever-increasing rate, including the much-publicised use of targeted treatments.

    In America screening for lung cancer is available but has not yet been approved by the regulator, NICE, in the UK.

    Dr Doffman said: “In the US, screening has seen a 20 per cent reduction in all-cause mortality rates and an improved survival from lung cancer which was diagnosed at an earlier stage.

    “I hope that we will see screening for lung cancer implemented here in the UK one day soon.

    “However, until then, our best weapon in the fight, apart from prevention, is early detection, and that depends on people reacting to symptoms such as a persistent cough.

    “You won’t be wasting anyone’s time and it could help save your life.”

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