With a disease as serious as lung cancer, you would expect symptoms to match the severity. You would expect a clear or obvious warning light – gasping for breath, a violent and unshakable cough, intense chest pains.

Because how could something so acute not send out an adequate alert?

However, the reality is early symptoms of lung cancer are often subtle and easy to dismiss as something else. A bit of breathlessness is because you’re a bit out of shape. Lack of energy can be down to anything from poor diet to low mood. And a persistent cough? Well, we all know what springs to mind now when we hear a cough.

In our latest awareness campaign, we aim to help people, including GPs, spot potential lung cancer symptoms early and encourage them to take the necessary steps to be diagnosed as soon as possible.

We need to help people spot the early symptoms of lung cancer – no matter how subtle, no matter how trivial they might appear, no matter how many other things they could be, or how busy our lives are – we need everyone to take action. This way, other battles with lung cancer can have a different outcome to James.

Cathy Brokenshire, wife of James Brokenshire MP, pledges her support to the campaign


It is so important to be able to recognise the many different symptoms of lung cancer. From the more obvious symptoms such as a persistent cough, breathlessness, chest pain and chest infections, wheezing, hoarseness and coughing up blood to vague symptoms like weight loss and fatigue as well as the more obscure symptoms such as back or shoulder pain, swelling in the face or neck and even clubbing of the fingers.

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Straightaway, after I was diagnosed, I was told it was curable. I could have an operation and have it removed, hopefully, by keyhole surgery. And that’s exactly what happened.

Pat, six years cancer free

Lung cancer in BAME communities: Dipti’s story

“I think within the BAME community, there is that feeling that cancer equals death or it’s like a punishment because many of the BAME religions are about “what goes around comes around.” “You reap what you sow.” But as we know, diseases can’t be helped. Sometimes it can be environmental. Sometimes it can be genetic. Sometimes it can be just chance and we can’t control these things and I think that we have to change that perception.”

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Lung cancer in BAME communities: Dipti's story

Treatment can make the difference

Lucy’s story

Everyone’s lung cancer diagnosis is different, and so is everyone’s response to treatment. When Lucy was diagnosed with lung cancer for the second time, she was given just months to live. That was 10 years ago…

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Richard’s story

After contracting Covid in March 2020, Richard was left with an aggressive cough. He had several telephone consultations with his GP, but the pandemic meant he couldn’t get a face-to-face appointment until August. Three x-rays and a subsequent CT scan later, Richard was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer but new treatment means life goes on,

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They took out my whole lower right lobe through video assisted surgery. They just took the cancer out. They could do that because I went to the doctor, and it was caught early

Michelle, diagnosed 2018

Helping GPs Spot the Difference

We know of many patients who have gone to their GP with symptoms and faced delays to their diagnosis. So, as part of the Spot the Difference campaign, we have created a number of tools and resources for primary care to help identify potential lung cancer cases as soon as possible.

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Share the campaign

We are only able to run awareness campaigns like Spot the Difference because of your support. Lung cancer is still struggling to recover from the pandemic, so we need to do everything we can to make sure these life saving messages are pushed far and wide. Please help us any way you can.

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I didn’t want to go to the doctors. I was scared to go because I was aware that all this smoking I had done previously wasn’t good for me. But at the same time, I knew I had to go. I couldn’t delay any longer and just get it out of the way, one way or another.

Bill, over 20 years lung cancer free

Can you spot the difference?

Throughout November, we’re sharing pictures of people from just before their diagnosis and how they are now to demonstrate the subtlety of symptoms and how people can now live well with lung cancer. Get involved by sharing your own photos or those of your loved ones using the #spotthedifference and #lcsm to help raise awareness of the campaign.

Can you spot the difference?