Need further advice? Use the following frequently asked questions for general guidance. For concerns specific to you, please speak to your GP.
If you’ve had it for three weeks or more, or if your long-standing cough has changed, make an appointment with your GP as soon as possible. Chances are it’s nothing serious, but if it’s lung cancer, the time to know is now. Why? You’re much more likely to survive early stage lung cancer than late stage lung cancer.
Please encourage your dad to make an appointment with his GP, and remember that a friend or family member can go with him to his appointment.
Chances are it’s nothing serious but a cough for more than three weeks, or a change to a long-standing cough, could be a warning sign of something more serious such as lung cancer.
You could also forward your dad a link to this website for more information, if you think that would encourage him to make an appointment.
Yes. If you’ve had a cough for more than three weeks, or if your long-standing cough has changed, please make an appointment with your GP now. Your doctor will make the time to see you; they will ask you questions about your symptoms and medical history and give you a physical examination.
GPs follow national guidelines when referring patients for tests; if you have any of the symptoms required for an urgent chest x-ray and your GP is worried that lung cancer is a possibility, you will be referred to your local clinic or hospital for an appointment within 2 weeks. Your GP may also refer you for blood tests.
If this is something new or has changed recently, please see your GP straight away. Chances are it’s nothing serious, but it’s better to know now.
You are free to ask whatever questions you feel are important to you.
The following questions may be useful. Feel free to print this list and take it with you to your appointment.
Please remember that you can take someone with you to your appointment, this can help you to make sure you ask all the questions you would like to.
Your GP will ask you questions about your symptoms and medical history and give you a physical examination. GPs follow national guidelines when referring patients for tests; if you have any of the symptoms required for an urgent chest x-ray and your GP is worried that lung cancer is a possibility, you will be referred to your local clinic or hospital for an appointment within 2 weeks. Your GP may also refer you for blood tests.
Like most cancers, lung cancer mainly affects older people. It is rare in people younger than 40, and the rates of lung cancer rise sharply with age. Lung cancer is most commonly diagnosed in people aged 70-74 years.
Although people who have never smoked can develop lung cancer, smoking causes 9 out of 10 cases. This is because smoking involves regularly inhaling a number of different toxic substances.
9 out of 10 cases of lung cancer are caused by smoking, so if you smoke the best way to reduce your chances of getting lung cancer and other serious conditions, is to stop smoking as soon as possible.
However long you have been smoking, it is always worth quitting. Every year that you do not smoke, your risk of getting serious illnesses, such as lung cancer, will decrease. After 10 years of not smoking, your chances of developing lung cancer falls to half that of some who smokes.
NHS Smokefree can offer free advice and encouragement to help you quit smoking. You can call them on 0300 123 1044, or visit their website. Your GP or pharmacist can also give you help and advice about giving up smoking.
In general, maintaining a healthy weight, staying within government guidelines on alchol, eating a healthy, balanced diet and keeping active can help reduce your risk of some cancers and heart disease. Find out more information about diet and cancer from Cancer Research UK, Macmillan, and the NHS.
Lung cancer is caused when cells lining your lungs multiply out of control to form a lump called a tumour. The abnormal cells involved determine the type of lung cancer you have.
Your lungs are two large sponge-like organs in your chest, which absorb oxygen into your blood from the air you breathe in, and remove unwanted carbon dioxide from your blood in the air you breathe out. This is their basic function.
In your chest your windpipe divides into two tubes (bronchi), each leading into a lung. The bronchi divide into branches (bronchioles), which have air sacs (alveoli) at their ends, where your blood exchanges carbon dioxide for the oxygen your body needs to function.
These days the majority of people with lung cancer survive, if it is caught at a very early stage. The challenge is spotting it this early.
Unfortunately, many lung cancers are diagnosed at a late stage when they are much harder to treat.
At the moment there is no national screening programme for lung cancer in the UK. The UK Health Technology Assessment programme is currently assessing tests that could be used to screen for lung cancer. You can find detailed information about research into lung cancer screening from Cancer Research UK.