Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation has launched its annual awareness campaign for lung cancer awareness month.
Spot the Difference aims to help people recognise the many different, and often subtle, symptoms of lung cancer and take action.
“Early symptoms of lung cancer are often difficult to spot,” explains Paula Chadwick, chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. They are subtle. They can appear trivial. They can easily be dismissed as something far less sinister. This is why so many people are still diagnosed at late stage, when curative treatment is no longer possible.
Lung cancer symptoms are hard to spot. It isn’t as clear as a lump in your breast or a mole on your skin and, despite the seriousness of the condition, the symptoms don’t really marry up. People may think with a disease as serious as lung cancer, symptoms would be obvious, dramatic – aggressive coughing fits, gasping for breathing, intense chest pain or repeatedly coughing up blood.
The reality is very different. Symptoms can be tiny – a tickly cough that would won’t go away but doesn’t really interfere with your life, a bit of breathlessness walking up the stairs that you put down to being a bit unfit, or your age, feeling more tired than normal.
This is what Spot the Difference is all about – taking notice of any change in your health, something that is unusual for you and doing something about it.”
Throughout November, the charity will be sharing stories of people who spotted a change in their health and took action, people like Tracy.
Tracy first had a chest infection in the winter of 2018. She then had another a few months later and so went to her doctor:
“I was normally fit and well. I’d had the odd cold like everybody does but normally you shake it off so this was unusual for me and so I went to the doctor.
At the appointment, I told him about the cough I had had over Christmas as well as the one I had currently and something just sort of clicked with him. He asked if I was normally fit and healthy and when I replied yes, he sent me straight for an x-ray.”
The charity is also encouraging people to share their pre and post diagnosis pictures on social media.
“People expect someone who is just about to be diagnosed with lung cancer to look poorly,” Paula explains “but quite often they don’t. You wouldn’t be able to spot anything obviously wrong.
That’s why we’re asking anyone affected by lung cancer – either themselves directly or loved one – to join our social campaign using the #spotthedifference and #lcsm and help us highlight the subtlety of symptoms.
We then want them to post a second, more recent, picture. This is to demonstrate that, when lung cancer is caught early, people can have curative treatment or, thanks to advances in treatment, people can live well with incurable disease. There is a lot of fear around lung cancer. This is completely understandable but we do not want this fear to be the reason people are not coming forward with symptoms. The sooner lung cancer is caught, the easier it is to treat so we urge anyone who is experiencing any differences in their health to contact their GP practice.”
Click here to find out more about the campaign and how you can get involved.