Sir Alex Ferguson backs lung cancer campaign
Sir Alex, who lost both his parents to the disease, stressed the importance of not ignoring a persistent cough which has not cleared after three weeks.
A campaign featuring the former Manchester United manager has already resulted in more people saying they would be less likely to delay a visit to the GP if they were concerned about lung cancer.
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The number of over-55s who disagreed strongly that they “would feel silly going to the doctor” with small changes that they feared could be lung cancer increased from 24% to 36%, according to the Scottish Government.
Meanwhile, almost two-fifths of the target audience (39%) said they were less likely to put off visiting their doctor if they had a possible symptom of the disease, an increase of 6%.
Lung cancer survival rates are significantly increased if the disease is detected at an early stage, with the five-year survival rates for when it is detected at stage one or two almost 20 times better than for those whose disease has progressed to stage four by the time it is diagnosed.
Sir Alex said: “Everyone should be aware of the signs of lung cancer. If you or someone you know has a cough that won’t clear up, don’t ignore it. With higher survival rates for people who seek help at an earlier stage, it’s worthwhile raising it with your GP sooner rather than later.”
The Scottish Government’s Detect Cancer Early programme aims to increase the number of breast, bowel and lung cancer sufferers who are diagnosed early by 25% by the end of 2015.
Health Secretary Alex Neil stressed: “Lung cancer is much more treatable than it used to be, but early detection is key - the earlier people are diagnosed, the more chance they have of surviving.
“That is why it is essential that people pay attention to a persistent cough or coughs that have changed. It is important to be switched on to the symptoms and warning signs. It may be nothing to worry about but don’t ignore it, contact your GP - you won’t be wasting anyone’s time.”
Kenneth Tulloch, from Bridge of Don, Aberdeen, was diagnosed with stage one lung cancer last January after suffering for months with a persistent cough.
He is now in remission after successful surgery to remove the cancer, but admitted if he had not gone to his doctor “things could have been very different”.
Mr Tulloch said: “I had the cough for weeks and my wife pushed me to get it seen to. As someone who had never smoked I didn’t think it was anything serious, but the cough wouldn’t clear up. I wasn’t able to sleep and it was becoming very wearing.
“Once I saw my GP and was referred, things moved really quickly. In the January I went for a CT scan and biopsy and was allocated a cancer nurse who was fantastic. In February I was told the cancer was all in one area, and the operation to remove the lower part of my left lung went ahead a week later.
“Thankfully, the operation was a success. The surgeon was confident he had removed everything, but I had to go through chemotherapy as a precaution.
“I was home from hospital after nine days and able to walk down my street within five weeks of the surgery. My GP has been unbelievably good since I’ve been home, he visited me shortly after getting back from hospital and the aftercare has been fantastic.
“I have routine follow-ups but I have my life back. If I hadn’t seen the GP about my cough, things could have been very different. That quick diagnosis at an early stage saved my life and I’d encourage anyone who has a cough that won’t go away to see their GP immediately.”
Glasgow-based GP Dr Douglas Rigg also backed the campaign, saying: “If you have a cough for three weeks or more, your GP wants to see you. For most people it isn’t a serious problem, but it does need to be checked because a long lasting cough can be a sign of lung cancer.”
He added: “The earlier lung cancer is found, the easier it is to treat and the better your chance of survival. You shouldn’t worry about wasting our time because the sooner we see you, the easier it is for us to help.
“The initial tests are straightforward and can be arranged quickly, so don’t put it off. If you, or someone close to you, has noticed a cough for more than three weeks, make an appointment to speak with your GP now. It could save your life.”
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