The Lung Cancer team at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) is shining the spotlight on the causes of lung cancer as part of a national awareness month.
Lung cancer is one of the most common and serious types of cancer. Nationally, around 47,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer every year.
Smoking cigarettes is the single biggest risk factor for lung cancer and it is responsible for more than 70% of cases. Melissa Doherty, Lung Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist at UHMBT, says that quitting smoking is the best way of reducing your risk of getting lung cancer.
Melissa said: “People don’t realise that nicotine doesn’t cause cancer, it’s harmful gases produced by the burning of the cigarettes that are the cause. If people use adequate nicotine replacement therapy and access the services that are available, it is proven that they are more likely to successfully quit the habit of smoking.
“There is a lot of support out there for people to help them to quit smoking, including Quit Squad in Lancashire and in Cumbria selected pharmacies offer one-to-one Stop Smoking Services and people can also access support through their GPs.”
While smoking cigarettes is the biggest risk factor, using other types of tobacco products such as cigars, pipe tobacco, snuff, and chewing tobacco can also increase your risk of developing lung cancer and other types of cancer such as oesophageal cancer and mouth cancer.
Karen Price, Lung Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist at UHMBT, said: “Lung cancer mainly affects older people and is rare in people younger than 40. Although people who have never smoked can develop lung cancer, smoking is the most common cause.
“Passive smokers – those who do not smoke but have frequent exposure to other people’s tobacco smoke - can have an increased risk of developing lung cancer. Those who have come into contact with certain chemicals and substances such as asbestos or coal and coke fumes also have an increased risk.”
What are the signs and symptoms of lung cancer?
- a persistent cough that doesn’t go away after two or three weeks
- a long-standing cough that gets worse
- chest infections that keep coming back
- coughing up blood
- an ache or pain when breathing or coughing
- persistent breathlessness
- persistent tiredness or lack of energy
- loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss
Less common symptoms of lung cancer include:
- changes in the appearance of your fingers, such as becoming more curved or their ends becoming larger (this is known as finger clubbing)
- difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) or pain when swallowing
- a hoarse voice
- swelling of your face or neck
- persistent chest or shoulder pain
Leanne Longton, Lung Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist at UHMBT, said: “It’s important that people go to their GP if they have any symptoms because early detection can result in a better outcome. Your GP can organise a review and a chest X-ray, then refer to the Lung Cancer Service at UHMBT if appropriate for further investigation.”
The Lung Cancer team at UHMBT is made up of four Clinical Nurse Specialists who support people from their referral and diagnosis right through to their treatment. The team works closely with specialists from different departments to provide the very best care and support.
The type of treatment people receive for lung cancer depends on the type of cancer they have, the size and position of the cancer, how advanced the cancer is, and overall health. The most common treatment options for lung cancer include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy.
You can find out more about lung cancer at the NHS website here https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/lung-cancer/
Lung Cancer Awareness Month runs throughout November.