19th April 2024

Why we need to x-ray for suspected lung cancer sooner

View all Early detection

At the end of last year, we published our report: A framework for achieving earlier diagnosis in symptomatic lung cancer which highlighted ways we can help catch lung cancer at the earliest opportunity.

Recommendations included primary care education, more healthcare professionals trained to request chest x-rays and the publication of chest x-ray rates by GP practice, Primary Care Network (PCN) & Integrated Care System (ICS), which this week, Dr Steve Bradley, has presented at the British Thoracic Oncology Group’s (BTOG) annual meeting.

Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation recommends immediate x-ray for all those with lung cancer symptoms

Robyn’s story show us exactly why our recommendations need immediate action…

Robyn’s lung cancer story

“My lung cancer diagnosis was very hard to accept. At just 39, never in my life did I think I’d ever have to face this.

“My symptoms started in March 2023. I had tightness in my chest which radiated to my back. I also had very sore ribs.

“I visited my GP several times from March to December. I think I probably went around 10 times or more over a nine-month period. Lung cancer never seemed to be considered.

My GP never sent me for a chest x-ray, despite the pain getting so bad I couldn’t walk. Instead, they treated me for costochondritis, which is inflammation where your ribs join the bone in the middle of your chest, and pleurisy.

“I finally got an initial x-ray after ending up in A&E and eventually diagnosed on 3rd December. I’m now on the targeted therapy, Alectinib. I’ve handled the treatment ok with no major side effects so far, but I have had to make some big life adjustments.

A life changing diagnosis

“I have had to stop working, which broke my heart. I worked at a salon, offering beauty and holistic treatments and training. The pain in my back means I can’t do the treatments anymore.

“My salon was my happy place. I have the most wonderful clients, some of whom have been with me for 15 years, and I miss them dearly.

“Lung cancer has obviously had a huge impact on my family too. My husband, Gordon and our two children, Taylor and Jessica, are living with this disease too. It doesn’t just affect my life but theirs too.

“This is why I wanted to share my story to help Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation raise awareness that anyone can get this disease – all you need is lungs!

“I want to make sure people who have similar symptoms to mine take action and push for further investigation if they need to. It shouldn’t have taken nine months and a trip to A&E for me to have an x-ray.

“We’re so quick to assume it’s anything but lung cancer. Yes, my symptoms were more likely due to stress or anxiety or poor posture at work but lung cancer was still a possibility and should have been ‘ruled out’. It’s my hope that by sharing my experience I can help other people avoid such unnecessarily and life changing delays.”