Recent results published in the British Journal of Cancer, revealed that after an awareness campaign advising people who suffered from persistent cough to visit their physician, a sudden increase in early stage lung cancer diagnoses was registered, when the disease is most likely to be cured.
The “Be Clear on Cancer” campaign, led by Cancer Research UK, saw a 30% increase in referrals during its time frame, when compared to the same time period just one year before.
Furthermore, in the months after the campaign, an additional 700 patients were diagnosed with lung cancer, many of them with early stage disease and 300 of which received surgery.
In a survey preformed after the campaign, which involved more than 1,100 people, a significant (33%) percentage of participants were unaware that an intensive cough lasting more than 3 weeks could be correlated with a lung cancer diagnosis. This is particularly relevant since only 18% of people surveyed were aware of this information before the campaign.
According to experts, efforts to raise awareness can result in earlier lung cancer detection, which ultimately increases patients’ chances of surgery, treatment and hopefully, survival.
“This proves just how successful a simple campaign alerting people to be vigilant about persistent coughing can be. The sooner people recognise changes in their bodies and go to their GP for a check-up, the better their chances if it does turn out to be cancer. Earlier diagnosis combined with pioneering research means we can make real progress in treating lung cancer – a devastating disease that has killed millions of people,” Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive said in a news release.
Dr. Mick Peake, lung cancer expert and consultant in respiratory medicine at the University of Hospitals of Leicester and lead author of the paper added, “I can honestly say that this campaign has achieved more than I ever expected. We were surprised to see so many more patients diagnosed with lung cancer at an early stage of their disease and then to see that being translated into a significant increase in the number of patients going on to have potentially curative surgery is hugely encouraging. If maintained, this effect could really result in a fall in the number of patients who die from lung cancer in the longer term.”