“I guess you could say I’m here by accident. I was diagnosed with lung cancer by accident.
“I’d been suffering from a really bad chest infection and was sent for a scan. From this, they found a tiny ‘insignificant’ nodule on my right lung and it was recommended that I have a follow up scan in six months – just as a precaution. It was during that scan that they found the nodule had grown.
“It’s good news and bad news,” my consultant said, meaning it was cancerous but they’d caught it early and I could have surgery. A few weeks later, in I went and out it came and, fortunately, I didn’t require any further treatment.”
Pat is a prime example of how people can survive lung cancer. If it is caught early enough then treatment can be curable and relatively straightforward and results from a major new study based on NHS data, support this.
Patients were found to be around five times more likely to have surgery, and less likely to have chemotherapy, if they were diagnosed at the earliest stage, compared to the latest stage.
But can people really live without part of or even without the whole of a lung? Yes is the answer:
“I did feel quite breathless at first and I found that rather scary. However, after attending my local lung cancer support group, I found out that this was something many people experience. And now, I’ve got a new lease of life. I’m going to the gym two or three times a week and have started swimming again. I even abseiled down the Liverpool Cathedral earlier this year. Yes, you read that right – a 68-year-old woman dangling 331 feet up in the air!
“I have to admit, I was a bit breathless climbing up the steps and it did my heart no favours! But it was brilliant experience, for a brilliant cause, and I’m so grateful I got to do it. There are far too many people who don’t.
“Part of the problem is people don’t actually want to talk about lung cancer. I think that’s probably why I didn’t tell too many people because of the reaction I expected to get. If I had a different cancer, I think they would have wanted to know more about it and sympathise more but not with lung cancer. Definitely not.
“Lung cancer should be as important as every other cancer. It should be diagnosed early because I’m proof of what can happen when it is.”
“It’s good news and bad news,” my consultant said, meaning it was cancerous but they’d caught it early and I could have surgery. A few weeks later, in I went and out it came and, fortunately, I didn’t require any further treatment.”Pat has part of her lung removed and five years on is thriving
Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation is committed to detecting lung cancer early. To date, it has given over £30 million towards lung cancer research, focusing predominantly on early detection and patient experience including a current project underway at The University of Liverpool, which looks to identify a blood biomarker for lung cancer. If successful, this could mean doctors could test for lung cancer using a simple blood test.
The charity is also funding a Lung Health MOT Check, which looks to identify potential lung cancer patients before symptoms appear. And that’s exactly what it has done.
In almost 5 per cent of patients, the CT scan revealed small nodules on their lungs. Just like Pat, they are not currently malignant. However, just like Pat, these patients will now have follow up scans to monitor any growth. If the nodule did increase in size, this could suggest it is then malignant. If this is the case, then it will be caught at a very early stage, making them far more eligible for curative treatment. Just like Pat.