4 warning signs of lung cancer the NHS doesn’t want you to ignore

Jonnie Irwin on ‘Escape to the Country’ (BBC)

Lung cancer is the biggest cause of cancer-related deaths in England and the fifth biggest cause of death overall.

Most recently, TV host Jonnie Irwinrevealed he has terminal cancer and decided to make the news public after he was told the cancer spread from his lungs to his brain.

The presenter, who is known for hosting Channel 4’s A Place in the Sun and BBC’s Escape to the Country, said his first warning sign was experiencing blurry vision while driving in Italy in August 2020.

He said that, within a week of flying home from filming A Place in the Sun, he was “given six months to live”.

Earlier this year, the NHS launched a campaign to mark Lung Cancer Day in August and highlighted specific symptoms that people should be aware of.

The Help Us Help You campaign was aimed at people who are at the highest risk for developing the disease, specifically those aged 60 and over, as well as people who are reluctant to visit their GP.

These are the four warning signs and symptoms people should look out for and see their GP immediately if they emerge.

Persistent breathlessness

Paula Chadwick, chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, said: “It is absolutely vital that if you are experiencing symptoms like a persistent cough or shortness of breath that you take action and contact your GP team. Don’t put it off.

“Don’t presume it’s nothing to worry about. Don’t worry about bothering your doctors. It is always best to check because if it is lunch cancer, catching it early can make all the difference.”

Recurring chest infections

Another warning sign of lung cancer is chest infections that keep coming back, the NHS says.

The symptom was highlighted by Tracy Bourne, a 59-year-old from Stoke-on-Trent who first noticed a cough around Christmas 2018. In March 2019, she developed a bad chest infection and fell ill.

She was diagnosed with lung cancer weeks after seeing her doctor and getting an X-ray. Since then, she has undergone surgery to remove part of her lung and received the all-clear.

“I just thought it was a chest infection and, even though I was being sent for scans, I kept putting off the thought it was lung cancer because I have never smoked in my life,” Bourne said.

“It just goes to show how important it is to get help if something isn’t right. To anyone else who is experiencing a cough that hasn’t gone away, I would really encourage you to contact a medical professional and get yourself checked out.”

Coughing up blood

Coughing up blood is always cause for concern, and you should see your doctor immediately if this happens.

Cally Palmer, NHS England’s National Cancer Director said: “We know for a fact most people who get diagnosed with lung cancer early go on to survive so it is imperative that people are aware of the symptoms and come forward as quickly as possible.

“The NHS is here to help and our services are open so people should not hesitate to come forward if they notice potential lung cancer symptoms”.

Loss of appetite

Sudden loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss could be a warning sign of lung cancer. Patients may also experience difficulty swallowing or pain when swallowing and wheezing.