The local NHS in Liverpool is teaming up with Macmillan Cancer Support to help raise awareness of lung cancer during Lung Cancer Awareness Month this November.
Liverpool currently has one of the highest mortality rates for lung cancer in England, and it’s also estimated that there’s around 6,000 people living with other forms of lung disease such as undiagnosed COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) across the city.
From Monday 20th to Friday 24th November Macmillan Cancer Support will be bringing their Mobile Information Centre to Liverpool as part of Lung Cancer Awareness Month.
The Macmillan Mobile Information and Support Service will be stationed at Belle Vale Shopping Centre on Childwall Valley Road between 9am – 5pm throughout the week, offering free information and advice to members of the public on looking after their lung health.
On Tuesday 21st and Thursday 23rd November, the Healthy Lung Team from NHS Liverpool CCG and nurses from Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital will also be on hand to offer additional support, including spirometry tests which can measure the health of your lungs on the spot.
Dr Katy Gardner, a Macmillan GP employed by NHS Liverpool CCG and part of the Healthy Lung team explains:
"During Lung Cancer Awareness Month, many of our activities will focus on reminding people of the importance of looking after their lung health, and on educating people about how to spot the early signs of lung cancer in order to give them the best possible chance of treatment and cure.”
"Most lung cancer occurs in people aged over the age of 50, and those who have ever smoked – but this is not always the case, so it’s important for people of all ages to be aware of the common signs and symptoms to look out for, and to visit their doctor as soon as possible if they are at all worried."
The main signs and symptoms include:
- A persistent cough that won’t go away, or a cough that you’ve had for a while suddenly getting worse
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing up blood
- Chest or shoulder pain
- Frequent chest infections
- Wheezing and breathlessness
Dr Seamus Grundy, Chest Consultant at Aintree University Hospital, and part of the Healthy Lung programme explains:
“As a city, Liverpool has a very high rate of lung cancer, and unfortunately as many as three quarters of people are first seen by a specialist at a late stage when their condition cannot be treated with the aim of a cure.
“Around 40% of people suffering from lung cancer only get diagnosed when their symptoms have become so bad that they are forced to go to A&E. Please don’t leave it this late. All of these symptoms are potentially a sign that something is wrong with the respiratory system, and shouldn’t be ignored. It may not be cancer, but please don’t feel that you are wasting anyone’s time by getting yourself checked out - it could just save your life.
"In Liverpool we are lucky to have excellent lung treatment services available, and medicine is getting better and better all the time, but the earlier we can see a patient the more effective any treatment will be."
During Lung Cancer Awareness Month, the Healthy Lung Programme will also be continuing to write to patients aged between 58 – 75 years who have ever smoked, and who live in areas of the city with high levels of lung cancer to invite them to attend a Lung Health Clinic at their local GP surgery.
So far these clinics have been offered to people living in Picton, Everton, Norris Green, Croxteth, Anfield and Speke, and the programme will be extended to other areas of the city in the next year.
If you think you might benefit from attending a Lung Health Clinic at your GP surgery but have not yet received an invitation, or if you have received one in the past and not yet attended, you can phone: 0151 254 3032 (9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday) to book an appointment.
Dr Katy Gardner continues: “If you have received a letter from your GP inviting you to attend a Lung Health Clinic, either recently or at any time over the past year, you should book an appointment as soon as possible. Please don’t ignore it or put it off.”
“Attending a Lung Health Clinic is just a routine check-up, and is nothing to feel worried about. During the clinic you will be asked a few questions about your general health and offered lots of useful information about how to keep your lungs healthy, to help protect you from developing lung diseases such as COPD or lung cancer in the future.
She adds, “You may find that it puts your mind at ease to get checked out, and even if they do find any problems with your lung health during the appointment, many lung diseases are treatable conditions, and finding them early can allow us to intervene sooner and help prevent it impacting on your life.”
For more information about the Liverpool Healthy Lung Programme please visit their website by clicking here.