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News

2016

Be Clear on Cancer: recognising respiratory symptoms

Central London CCG is supporting the Be Clear on Cancer campaign running from 14 July to 16 October 2016. Residents in Westminster are encouraged to recognise respiratory symptoms and get the appropriate help where needed.  A persistent cough or inappropriate breathlessness during everyday activities could be symptoms of a variety of conditions including cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and, in the case of breathlessness, heart disease. Diagnosing these conditions at an early stage makes them more treatable, so people should not ignore the problem and tell their doctor.

Men and women aged 50 and over, as well as their family and friends should be particularly aware of these respiratory symptoms. People over 50 are most at risk of having undiagnosed respiratory illness and make up 97% of lung cancer diagnoses nationally. If activities such as vacuuming or walking up the stairs are resulting in inappropriate breathlessness, it is vital to go and see a GP urgently. Residents who have had a persistent cough for three weeks or more should also make an appointment as quickly as possible.

 

Key facts:

• An estimated 9,223 people are living with undiagnosed COPD in Westminster. Within the borough, COPD causes an estimated 32 deaths per year.

• In 2013 there were 74 new diagnoses of lung cancer in Westminster.

• Nationally, over 70,000 people died from heart disease in 2014.

 

Alan Cooley, aged 64, a supporter of the British Lung Foundation says:

“I was working on a building site and was starting to feel more and more out of breath as I went about my work. I was carrying less and less material around and found it hard to get anything done without pausing for breath.

I didn't realise how bad it was and tried to hide it, but my family and workmates began to notice and persuaded me to visit my doctor. I was diagnosed with COPD, and now I am receiving treatment for it things are so much more manageable. I can finally walk reasonable distances again without pausing for breath!”

 

Dr Neville Purssell, Chair of Central London CCG says:

“Across Westminster, GP practices are providing more convenient consultations, with many offering phone consultations, online appointment booking and longer appointments where needed. Before you visit your GP, it may help to write down your symptoms and how you feel so you don't forget anything on your visit. Your doctor may ask you some questions, such as how long you have had your symptoms and whether they have changed over time. Your doctor may also suggest some tests such as a chest x-ray, blood tests and lung function tests. These are all standard procedures and nothing to worry about.”

 

Find out more about GP services in the borough here. For further information about COPD, visit the NHS Choices website.

For further information, please contact Nick Evans, Communications Assistant, NWL Collaboration of CCGs at nick.evans@nw.london.nhs.uk