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Cough campaign leads to thousands being tested for lung cancer

We’re all aware of the Be Clear On Cancer campaign, as it often hits our screens for weeks at a time, is displayed on billboards and advertised in spaces we are likely to see on a day-to-day basis.

However, following the campaign’s most recent advertising spurt, there has been a huge surge of lung cancers diagnosed at an early enough stage for patients to receive potentially curative surgery.

More than 3,000 extra referrals were made by local GP’s in the months during and after the campaign’s stint, state Cancer Research UK’s analysis of the campaign results.

Most importantly, the campaign’s results appeared to have achieved what they set out to do – over 700 extra patients were diagnosed with lung cancer, most at an early stage, and nearly 300 more patients received surgery.

A survey conducted shortly after the campaign ended also showed that lung cancer awareness had also risen, with 33% of people being sure that a cough lasting any more than three weeks was a significant warning sign of lung cancer compared with only 18% before the campaign began.
Healthcare experts believe that this kind of awareness campaign can help hundreds and thousands of people gain awareness about cancer, and can also lead to earlier diagnosis which in turn gives patients a better chance of successful treatments such as surgery, follow up treatment and then prolonged survival.Dr Mick Peake is the lung cancer expert and consultant in respiratory medicine at the University Hospital Leicester. He stated, “I can honestly say that this campaign has achieved more than I ever expected. We were surprised to see so many more patients diagnosed with lung cancer at an early stage of their disease and then to see that being translated into a significant increase in the number of patients going on to have potentially curative surgery is hugely encouraging. If maintained, this effect could really result in a fall in the number of patients who die from lung cancer in the longer term.”

Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK, Harpal Kumar said: “This proves just how successful a simple campaign alerting people to be vigilant about persistent coughing can be. The sooner people recognise changes in their bodies and go to their GP for a check-up, the better their chances if it does turn out to be cancer.”

He added, “Earlier diagnosis combined with pioneering research means we can make real progress in treating lung cancer – a devastating disease that has killed millions of people.”

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