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​Be Clear on Cancer this summer

Got a cough that won't go away? Is breathlessness making simple tasks difficult?  If you have any respiratory symptoms that are causing you concern, get them checked out straight away.

That's the message from GPs in Southwark this summer, who are urging patients to Be Clear on Cancer – particularly respiratory cancers, which are those affecting your breathing.

If you have a persistent cough lasting over three weeks, or experience breathlessness when completing everyday tasks, you may have early signs of lung disease, including cancer, and you should make an appointment to see your GP.

Many premature deaths in England are caused by respiratory disease and cancer and many of these are diagnosed and treated late, so it's important to act quickly if you have any concerns.

Dr Noel Baxter, Clinical Lead for respiratory conditions at Southwark Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: "People aged 50 and over are at greater risk of having undiagnosed respiratory problems and make up 97 per cent of lung cancer diagnoses. So it's particularly important if you fall within this age group to get any unusual symptoms checked out.

"As well as age, there are other factors that increase your risk of respiratory illness. These include tobacco smoking, repeated chest infections, breathing London air for many years and some occupations. Older residents who were in the building trade, or boilermakers and dockworkers, and their families living with them in the same house, may have been exposed to harmful dusts that can have a long-term impact on lungs."

If you aren't sure whether your symptoms should be investigated, why not try the British Lung Foundation's Breath test? Feeling short of breath from time to time is healthy and normal – but sometimes it can be a sign of something more serious. The test asks you simple questions to see if you should visit your GP. It only takes about five minutes and is completely confidential.

 Find out more about the Be Clear on Cancer campaign.