'I was lucky': Scot diagnosed early with lung cancer urges others to get checked

A Scottish woman diagnosed early with lung cancer has urged others to get checked.

Dr Ruthra Coventry, a consultant anaesthetist at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, encouraged anyone with the “slightest worry” to see their GP.

It comes as the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce, which represents six cancers with low survival rates, warned the pandemic was exacerbating poor diagnosis and treatment outcomes.

The taskforce has called for more research funding and diagnosis resources, asking all four nations of the UK to commit to increasing survival rates for these cancers to 28 per cent by 2029.

Dr Ruthra Coventry, Consultant Anaesthetist at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary

Less survivable cancers include lung, liver, brain, oesophageal, pancreatic and stomach cancers, which together make up nearly half of common cancer deaths in the UK.

Dr Coventry was “extremely shocked” to be diagnosed with lung cancer in 2018 at the age of 38.

"I was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2018 after experiencing sharp pains in my chest and asking my GP for a referral to hospital,” she said.

"Even though I'm a doctor I was extremely shocked to find out that I had cancer because I was only 38 and otherwise healthy. I was lucky that the cancer was caught early and it was successfully treated with surgery.

"If I hadn’t sought help when I did, my story would have been very different and I really want to urge anyone who has even the slightest worry to please go to their GP and get checked out."

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Dawn Crosby, head of Scotland and Northern Ireland for Pancreatic Cancer UK and member of the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce, said the situation was “critical”.

“These cancers are currently difficult or impossible to treat at later stages and the time from diagnosis to death is often brutally short compared to more survivable cancers,” she said.

"The situation is critical and has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Health secretary Humza Yousaf said: “The Scottish Government is committed to improving outcomes for all cancer patients and while survival rates have doubled in the last 40 years in the UK, thanks to earlier detection and treatment advances, it varies between cancer types.”

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