Public Health England (PHE) has launched a national campaign to raise awareness of lung cancer, lung disease and heart disease.
The new “Be Clear on Cancer” campaign aims to raise awareness of the symptoms associated with the diseases in an effort to diagnose the disease earlier.
As the leading causes of death in England, PHE hopes that by raising awareness, their quality of life will be improved and lives will be saved.
Lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer, accounting for around 28,400 deaths each year, while chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the cause of a further 24,000 deaths.
Coronary heart disease is the single biggest cause of death, accounting for 56,000 deaths in England each year.
Furthermore, PHE estimates that there are around 80,000 undiagnosed cases of lung cancer, one million cases of COPD and 600,000 undiagnosed cases of coronary health disease.
The campaign, which is aimed at men and women aged 50 and over, advises: “A persistent cough or getting out of breath doing everyday tasks that you used to be able to do, such as mowing the lawn or vacuuming, could be a sign of lung cancer or other lung disease.”
“Breathlessness could be a sign of heart disease as well. The campaign encourages anyone experiencing these symptoms to see their GP. Finding these conditions early makes them more treatable.”
Lung specialists have welcomed the new campaign and have called for longer-term early diagnosis strategy.
Dr Lisa Davies, consultant respiratory physician and chair of the British Thoracic Society’s Board of Trustees, said: “Early diagnosis is absolutely vital in achieving better lung health across the nation. It will also help to reduce the burden of lung disease on our hospitals.
“This campaign is a real step forward, but we also need a longer-term national early diagnosis strategy, which includes both health professional training and the inclusion of a simple lung function test in the NHS ‘health check’ for people over 40.”
Professor Chris Harrison, the national clinical director for cancer for NHS England added: “People don’t always realise the significance and potential severity of their symptoms and may dismiss them as an inevitable part of ageing or their lifestyle, which is why this campaign is so important.
“Evidence shows that Be Clear on Cancer campaigns really do make a difference. Early diagnosis of cancer is absolutely critical to improving survival and is a key focus for the NHS.”
The nationwide ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign will run until 16 October.