The HSE National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) urges people to act early on potential signs of cancer.
One in two people in Ireland will develop cancer at some point in their lives. Survival rates are significantly improved when cancer is diagnosed at an early stage.
Dr Heather Burns, a specialist in public health medicine, HSE NCCP, said:
“Diagnosing cancer early, before it has grown or spread to other parts of the body, increases your chances of curative treatment and is one of the most important ways to increase survival.”
“Late diagnosis, when cancer has grown and spread, limits your treatment options and reduces your chances of survival.”
“If you have any signs or symptoms that could be cancer, such a new cough lasting for more than three weeks, coughing up blood or unexplained weight loss, get it checked by your GP without delay.’’
Know the signs of cancer
Dr Una Kennedy is a GP advisor to the HSE NCCP and GP based in Glasnevin.
Dr Kennedy explained the NCCP conducted a series of focus groups to gain further insights into areas with a high incidence of lung cancer.
“A common finding among participants was a fatalistic attitude towards lung cancer, with some older participants believing they were beyond help.”
“We are urging members of the public to know the signs of cancer. Call your GP today if you notice any changes or something different for you.’’
It advises you to call your GP immediately if you notice any of the following:
- A new cough lasting for more than 3 weeks;
- A change to a cough that you have had for a long time;
- Breathlessness more than is normal for you;
- Coughing up blood;
- Chest infections that keep coming back;
- A new or changing lump or bump on your body, e.g. a breast lump or a lump in your neck
- Abnormal/unexplained bleeding from anywhere in your body, e.g. coughing up blood, blood in your urine or faeces, vaginal bleeding between periods, after sex or after the menopause;
- A new or changing mole;
- Unexplained weight loss;
- Constantly feeling very tired;
- Persistent change in bowel habit;
- Persistent heartburn or indigestion.
Lung cancer is Ireland’s leading cause of cancer death. However, early diagnosis is associated with better survival.
8 out of 10 (80.6%) patients diagnosed with early-stage lung cancer survive for at least one year after diagnosis. This is compared to just 1 in 5 (20.6%) of those diagnosed with late-stage disease.
Catherine Heaney is the coordinator of the Healthy Communities Project in the Dublin City Community Co-op.
Catherine and her team worked with the NCCP to develop information videos to encourage people to know the signs of cancer and talk to their GP if they are concerned.
She said: “Our videos give quick information on the signs and symptoms of different types of cancer, including lung cancer.”
“With the higher rates of lung cancer in North Dublin, it is very important that people know the signs of cancer and phone their GP if they have any concerns. An early diagnosis could save your life.”