Quest to find early signs of lung cancer

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PHARMACISTS have launched a campaign to save lives through the early detection of lung cancer.

NHS South of Tyne and Wear is working in partnership with 19 pharmacies and six GP practices across Sunderland, South Tyneside and Gateshead to raise awareness of possible early signs of the disease and encourage people to act on the symptoms of lung cancer.

Pharmacists will also be checking patients for possible early indications by assessing medication, including repeat prescriptions, for illnesses associated with lung cancer.

These can include a persistent cough, breathlessness, wheezing from one side of the chest, blood in phlegm, pain and unexplained weight loss.

Participating pharmacists and their staff will offer initial advice and, where appropriate, make direct referral to the person’s GP.

Nonnie Crawford, public health cancer lead for NHS South of Tyne and Wear, which covers Sunderland Teaching PCT, Gateshead Primary Care Trust (PCT) and South Tyneside PCT said: “Encouraging people to seek help from their doctor if they have unexplained symptoms or suspect cancer is the crucial first step in getting a speedy diagnosis for the disease.

“Patients have told us, particularly men, that they are often reluctant to ‘bother’ their doctors with these types of symptoms, concerned about ‘wasting the doctor’s time’ or that ‘they’ll only be told to quit smoking’.

“In reality, patients whose symptoms are identified early have an increased chance of recovery.”

The campaign is focused on raising awareness amongst individuals and communities, strengthening knowledge among health professionals and encouraging people to be more alert to the early symptoms of lung cancer to ensure people have appropriate medical advice as soon as possible.

Nonnie added: “It is just one of a number of awareness initiatives we are implementing to tackle this disease and improve the lives of the communities we serve.”

The project is one of 59 schemes across the country focusing on breast, bowel and/or lung cancer funded by the Department of Health and co-ordinated by the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative, (NAEDI) Cancer Research UK.