26th November 2020

Britain’s Got Talent winners help bring lung cancer out of Covid’s shadow

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New video commissioned by Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation for its Still Here campaign shows the impact of early diagnosis in lung cancer.

This lung cancer awareness month, a new video from the shadow theatre company, Attraction, who wowed viewers across the nation with their winning performances on Britain’s Got Talent, sets out the importance of early diagnosis in lung cancer like never before.

The elegant wordless performance tells the story of a daughter and loving father, who has several symptoms of lung cancer, including a persistent cough – now so frequently linked to COVID-19.

More than 35,000 people die of lung cancer in the UK every year, which is more than breast, prostate and pancreatic cancers combined. With sustained attention and funding, lung cancer had begun to turn a corner but COVID-19 is having a massive effect on diagnoses, treatment and prognoses.

Research by the UK Lung Cancer Coalition (UKLCC) 1 confirms the reality of those fears. It estimates that up to 1,372 additional lives may be lost from lung cancer due to the pandemic. Their report also revealed:

  • – Lung cancer referrals plummeted by up to 75% during the first lockdown
  • – One in three people with lung cancer have died since the beginning of the pandemic amid waits for treatment
  • – Some lung cancer deaths may have been mislabelled as COVID-19, with a cough being a key symptom of both diseases

Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation’s Still Here campaign, launched in September, aims to bring lung cancer out of the shadows; raising awareness of the potential signs and symptoms, and reminding us all that a cough does not just mean COVID.

It is vital people feel able to go to their doctor – even during the current restrictions – if they have a persistent cough, or if it’s accompanied by other common lung cancer symptoms, such as breathlessness, unexplained tiredness, coughing up blood and weight loss.

Paula Chadwick, Chief Executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, comments:

“Lung cancer had been in the shadows of other cancers, until we shone a spotlight on it, bringing it centre-stage. Now it’s been driven back into the shadows by COVID-19, so, we set out to change that.

However, raising awareness of lung cancer is not easy. It is not something people like to talk, or even think about. This is why we are so pleased to work with Attraction and present lung cancer in a very different way. It’s our hope in doing so, more people will watch this beautiful and emotional performance and take on board its vital message.

We know that when lung cancer is caught early, it can be cured. We’re also seeing people with incurable lung cancer live well for longer, thanks to new treatments. This has been reflected in the latest survival rates; most notably, 10-year survival has doubled. But it can only happen once someone is diagnosed. So we urge that if you are experiencing any potential symptoms including a persistent cough and breathlessness as shown in the film, please contact your GP.”

There are many different symptoms of lung cancer including a cough that lasts for three weeks or more, breathlessness, unexplained fatigue or lack of energy, repeat chest infections, coughing up blood or blood in your phlegm, unexplained weight loss or lack of appetite, a cough that changes or gets worse, back or shoulder pain and clubbed fingers.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you need to contact your doctor as soon as possible.