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November: Lung Cancer Awareness Month

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, aimed at improving people’s overall knowledge of lung cancer. There are typical signs and symptoms you can look out for, as well as tips to be mindful of in regards to your general health. As people become more aware of the facts and details about lung cancer, over time the large numbers of those being diagnosed will hopefully fall.

Why do we need to raise awareness?

In the UK, the current rate for someone to survive more than 10 years after being diagnosed with lung cancer is 5%. With the majority of patients being diagnosed at a stage when it is too late to be offered treatment, it is vital that people are more aware of symptoms in order to spot the signs early on. Symptoms may include, but are not limited to:

  • A persistent cough that doesn’t go away after a few weeks
  • Regular chest infections
  • Pain when coughing, breathing or swallowing
  • Feeling breathless and/or unable to breathe deeply
  • Coughing up phlegm and/or blood
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Unexplained weight loss and/or loss of appetite
  • Wheezing and a hoarse voice

If you notice one or more of these symptoms, visit your GP. The likelihood is that it is nothing serious, but it is best to have it checked out – if it is lung cancer, being diagnosed in the early stages could save your life. Your GP will examine you, and if they suspect cancer you will be referred for a chest x-ray primarily, followed by a visit to the chest specialist. If you are diagnosed, you will promptly be referred to a lung cancer team for treatment and care.

How do I reduce my risk of getting lung cancer?

There are multiple changes you can make which will improve your chances of never contracting lung cancer, mainly based around living a health-conscious lifestyle. For example:

  • Ask your GP for help to stop smoking. There are numerous organisations who are funded by the NHS to help you stop smoking free of charge. Additionally, if you don’t smoke but are surrounded by second hand smoke on a regular basis, make sure this is reduced as much as possible.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet, and reduce the amount of alcohol you drink as much as possible. Also, reduce the amount of fat, sugar and salt you consume, and increase the portions of fruit and vegetables you eat. The minimum you should be eating on a daily basis is five portions.
  • Exercise regularly - cardio (such as running and cycling) is perfect for increasing your lung capacity. As a result you will be able to inhale more oxygen, burn more calories and have more energy; not to mention decreasing your risk of getting lung cancer.

 

By raising awareness about lung cancer, the number of those being diagnosed in the early stages will increase and those being diagnosed at terminal stage will start to fall. Look out for the signs and symptoms, and be mindful of your diet choices. It is never too early to improve your lifestyle in order to benefit your health. 

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28 Days Later - Stoptober Asks Smokers “Where Will You Be?”

 

According to the official Stoptober website, you are 5 times more likely to quit smoking for good, if you can hold out for 28 days. That’s why the national campaign challenges smokers to stub it out for 28 days throughout October, in a bid to help them make a lifelong change.

Stoptober is by far the biggest mass participation quit smoking challenge the UK has ever seen and this year almost 200,000 people will take part including celebrity smokers like Paddy McGuinness and Al Murray.

Smoking charity ‘Action on Smoking and Health’, or ASH, says that two thirds of British smokers would like to quit. When you pledge to take part in Stoptober 2014, you will receive a support pack, access to a mobile app and a series of motivating text messages throughout the period. If you’d always thought about quitting but hadn’t made a proper fist of it, now might be the very best time to try.

ASH also explains that around half UK smokers will ultimately be killed by their addiction and every year around 100,000 smokers are. Smoking accounts for more than a third of respiratory deaths, over a quarter of cancer deaths and almost a seventh of heart related deaths.

Unfortunately, 60% of smokers say that they would find it hard to last for one whole day without smoking. For the remaining 40%, 28 days is all it could take to make one giant leap toward a smoke free life.

In addition to stubbing out, Stoptober encourages quitters to raise money while taking the challenge. It’s a wonderful cause with more than one benefit to UK smokers, their family and peers.

It’s ok to be a quitter this October. Just ask yourself where you could be in 28 days and by the time it comes around, you could be well on your way to a healthier, happier life.

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