Lung Cancer Awareness


People across the South Eastern Trust area are being urged to be more aware of the early signs and symptoms of Lung Cancer. 

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and an information stand has been set up by the Lung Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialists in the foyer of the Ulster Hospital to highlight signs and symptoms of lung cancer.  Various leaflets and information booklets are available and we would encourage passers-by to take these away to read and share, with the hope of promoting the importance of early detection of lung cancer.  The Smoking Cessation Team will also be available on occasions at the stand and information on smoking cessation is available also.

Lung Cancer Awareness Month at the South Eastern Trust centres around two key themes - awareness of early symptoms and support to stop smoking.

Lung Cancer is the most common cancer in the world. In the UK, around 46,400 new cases are diagnosed each year. The number of men diagnosed with lung cancer is reducing, but the number of women diagnosed with it is increasing. Throughout the UK, lung cancer is the second most common cancer in men (after prostate cancer), and it is the third most common cancer in women (after breast and bowel cancer).

More than 80% of people diagnosed with lung cancer are over the age of 60.

The early signs and symptoms of lung cancer or a lung problem are:

•           A persistent cough (or change to the nature of your normal cough)

•           Unexplained weight loss

•           Phlegm with traces of blood

•           A persistent chest infection even after taking antibiotics;

•           Unexplained persistent breathlessness.

•           Hoarseness of the voice not associated with a throat infection

It is essential to visit your GP promptly if you have experienced any of these symptoms for three weeks or more.  These symptoms may be caused by other illnesses or infections as well, but please see your GP to be sure – because if cancers are found at an early stage there is a much better chance of survival.

Survival for lung cancer is strongly related to the stage of the disease at diagnosis.

Survival figures for people who are diagnosed with Stage 1 lung cancer are excellent with up to 80% of five year survival achieved.

Lung cancer survival rates are higher the earlier the cancer is diagnosed. It is one of the most difficult cancers to treat and is often diagnosed in very late stages. Because of these factors, lung cancer has one of the lowest survival rates of any type of cancer.  The survival rates for lung cancer also depend on the type of lung cancer you have, the stage it is diagnosed at and the cancer treatment you are given.  Your overall health can also affect your outcome. Your medical team call this your performance status.

The link between smoking and lung cancer was established more than 50 years ago. It is known that smokers and ex-smokers have a particularly high risk of developing the disease: smoking and passive smoking cause 9 out of 10 lung cancers.

The more you smoke, the more likely you are to get lung cancer. But the length of time you have been a smoker is most important. Cigarette smoking is the main cause of lung cancer. Pipe and cigar smokers are still much more likely to get lung cancer than non- smokers. Passive smoking (breathing in other people's cigarette smoke) does increase the risk of lung cancer, but there is a greater risk if you smoke yourself.

As soon as you stop smoking, your risk of lung cancer starts to go down. After 12 years of stopping smoking, your risk of lung cancer is about 70% lower than people who do smoke. However long you have been smoking, it is always worth giving up.

Although most lung cancers are related to smoking, 10% of people with lung cancer have never smoked.  However, there are other factors that increase the risk of developing lung cancer disease, for example, exposure to chemicals found in the workplace or environment, such as: asbestos, radon, diesel exhaust fumes, synthetic fibres and many others.   If you were/are a smoker it is important to recognise that, although your smoking habit may have contributed, it may not be the only cause of the cancer.

Stopping smoking is key to reducing the risk of developing Lung Cancer and the Trust’s Smoking Cessation Service is available for those in the South Eastern Trust area who want to stop but would like help to do so.

For further information or to arrange an appointment contact Shirley McClelland  Tel:  (028) 91511 134 or Claire Black  Tel:  (028) 9250 1383.


Free Nicotine Replacement Therapy is also available by contacting your GP or by visiting your local Chemist.