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UK doctors want lung cancer focus back

UK doctors want lung cancer focus back
Photo: UK doctors want lung cancer focus back
British medical professionals say a successful lung cancer awareness program should be followed up as it was proven to boost early detection.

Doctors and nurses have written an open letter to the British health secretary asking why the government has "chosen to ignore" the positive results of a nationwide lung cancer awareness campaign by not announcing a follow-up.

Clinicians are calling on the new government to re-instigate the Be Clear on Cancer lung cancer awareness campaign immediately so that more lives can be saved.

Lung cancer is the UK's biggest cancer killer, with more than 35,000 people dying from it each year. It accounts for six per cent of all deaths, with more than twice as many people dying from it as the next ranked cancer, bowel cancer.

Lung cancer does not usually cause noticeable symptoms until it has spread through much of the lungs or into other parts of the body, making the outlook less positive for this type of cancer compared to others.
The eight-week campaign, which was aimed at the over-50s, aimed to raise public awareness of persistent cough as a symptom of the disease and saw a nine per cent increase in diagnosis rates.

It also resulted in a 63 per cent increase in over-50s going to the doctor with a cough.

The letter to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, from the UK Lung Cancer Coalition's (UKLCC) clinical advisory group, demands clarity on the future of the campaign.

The letter says that despite recent improvements there are wide variations in lung cancer treatment with survival rates in the UK lagging behind comparable European countries.

"Patients in the UK are diagnosed with more advanced disease than many other countries, with around 40 per cent first reaching specialist care via an emergency admission to hospital - resulting in poorer outcomes," the letter said.

"We are therefore disappointed that the Department of Health does not appear to be intending to build on the success of its own nationwide lung cancer awareness initiative."

It has been signed by 14 members of the UKLCC, whose members include leading lung cancer experts, senior NHS professionals, medical organisations, charities and healthcare companies.

UKLCC chairman Richard Steyn said: "We are disappointed that the Department of Health does not appear to be building on the success of its own nationwide lung cancer awareness initiative, and that the campaign seems to have been shelved."

But a department spokeswoman said the campaign has not been shelved and is under review.

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