The Be Clear on Cancer roadshow, part of a new Public Health England campaign, will be visiting the Bullring in Birmingham on Wednesday 17 August and Thursday 18 August to raise awareness that a persistent cough, or getting out of breath doing everyday things, such as vacuuming or walking up a short flight of stairs, could be a sign of lung cancer or other lung disease. Breathlessness can also be a sign of heart disease. The event will encourage anyone who notices these symptoms to visit their GP as finding these conditions early makes them more treatable.
The most recent data reveals that in Birmingham, the Black Country and Solihull, around 1,620 people are diagnosed with lung cancer each year and around 46,730 people have been diagnosed with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – a common form of lung disease that includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis). Around 87,370 have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease.
Early diagnosis of these conditions has the potential to save lives and improve the quality of life of those living with long-term conditions, such as COPD. The earlier heart disease is diagnosed the better treatment can help manage the symptoms and reduce the chance of a heart attack.
Symptoms to watch out for include:
- A cough that has lasted 3 weeks or more could be a sign of lung disease, including cancer
- Getting out of breath doing things you used to be able to do could be a sign of lung or heart disease, or even cancer
Other symptoms of heart disease or lung disease (including lung cancer) include:
- A cough that has got worse or changes
- Frequent chest infections
- Coughing up blood
- Chest pain or shoulder pain
- Feeling more tired than usual for some time
- Losing weight for no obvious reason
Dr Lola Abudu, Director for Health and Wellbeing at PHE West Midlands, said, “This campaign is crucially important to South Asian communities as we know there is an increased risk of heart disease amongst these groups, and smoking increases the risk of lung cancer and COPD. The campaign will help people recognise the symptoms and encourage them to seek help, potentially saving lives from what are three of the biggest causes of death in England.”
Inderjit Singh, Chief Pharmacist at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, supporting the roadshow said, “As pharmacists we have a vital role in supporting this campaign. We know that early diagnosis of these conditions has the potential to save lives and improve the quality of life for those living with long term conditions, such as COPD.
“People may put off visiting their GP for a number of reasons. Some may not realise a symptom like a persistent cough or getting out of breath doing things that you used to be able to do could be a sign of something serious, they may be fearful of what they will find out, or even worry about wasting their GP’s time.
“Whilst pharmacists and frontline counter staff won’t be the ones making a diagnosis, we are able to give the all-important ‘nudge’ to people we think would benefit from a visit to their GP.”
At the events, leaflets will be distributed that provide information on lung disease, including lung cancer, and heart disease. A nurse will also be on hand to talk to anyone who has any questions.
To ensure as many people as possible in Birmingham are aware of the symptoms of these conditions, campaign messages will be appearing throughout the Bullring shopping centre prompting people to visit their GP if they have a cough for three weeks or more or notice they get out of breath doing things they used to be able to do.
As part of the campaign a new film has been released that features real people sharing their personal experience of their conditions and a GP highlighting the signs and symptoms associated with these diseases.
The film can be viewed at http://po.st/FTSYVt and is also available in Hindi and Bengali. It will be aired across Black and Asian TV channels from Thursday 21 July and run until Monday 31 October. For further information about the signs and symptoms of lung cancer, lung disease and heart disease, search ‘Be Clear on Cancer’.
Be Clear on Cancer campaigns are run by Public Health England in partnership with the Department of Health and NHS England.