Back to news

GPs in Southwark back national drive to tackle lung cancer ​

GPs in Southwark are supporting a nationwide drive to ensure people understand the symptoms of one of the UK's most common and most serious cancers.

Lung cancer is one of the deadliest diseases in the world but prevention – primarily through stopping smoking – and early diagnosis make a huge difference to potential survival rates.

Around 47,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with the condition each year, making it the second most common cancer in the country. It mainly affects older people and is rare in those under 40. More than 40 per cent of those living with the disease are aged 75 or older.

During Lung Cancer Awareness Month (1-30 November 2019), the borough's GPs are backing efforts to improve understanding of the condition – and how to spot the early signs.

Smoking is the most common cause, accounting for nearly three quarters of cases. However, exposure to certain chemicals such as asbestos and coal fumes can also be a factor.

There are usually no signs or symptoms in the early stages. Eventual symptoms can include:

  • a persistent cough
  • coughing up blood
  • persistent breathlessness
  • unexplained tiredness and weight loss
  • an ache or pain when breathing or coughing.

These symptoms are usually not noticeable until the cancer has spread through the lungs or into other parts of the body, making the outlook after diagnosis worse than with many other cancers. However, early diagnosis can still make a big difference.

Dr Rob Davidson a local GP and clinical lead at NHS Southwark Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said:

"Lung Cancer Awareness Month provides an important opportunity to consider one of the most common, and most serious, cancers and better understand the symptoms.

"If you are concerned that you might be ill, please arrange to visit your GP as soon as possible. Most people who come in either recognise the symptoms or suspect there may be something serious but, if you're unsure or worried about finding out, it's important not to delay.   

"The earlier you spot it, the better your chances the cancer will be treatable, and you'll survive."

Dr Davidson added: "Most cases of lung cancer are caused by smoking so it's always a good time to quit. Although Stoptober has just ended, the NHS offers free resources to help people give up and these are available throughout the year.

"Quitting smoking not only reduces the risk of developing lung cancer; it is one of the very best things you can do for your health and for those you live with. And it saves you money."

For more information on lung cancer and how to spot the disease, please visit the lung cancer page on the NHS website

For more information on stop smoking services in Southwark, please visit