Northampton Macmillan nurse urges people not to ignore the early signs of lung cancer as A&E admissions rise

The charity says A&E admissions for lung cancer have doubled in four years

Friday, 26th November 2021, 4:17 pm

A cancer nurse from Northampton is urging people not to ignore the early signs and symptoms of lung cancer amid reports of a rise in emergency hospital admissions.

Jo Merritt, a Macmillan Lung Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist at Northampton General Hospital, says fear of Covid-19 is still preventing some people from visiting their GP and hospital, resulting in a late diagnosis.

In the last four years the number of emergency admissions for lung cancer at the hospital have almost doubled, according to Macmillan figures.

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Northampton's Macmillan team.

In 2018 there were 88 people diagnosed with lung cancer in A&E, rising to 169 in 2021.

Jo says the symptoms of Covid-19 are also creating confusion for people experiencing a persistent cough which is also one of the possible signs of lung cancer.

As part of Lung Cancer Awareness Month this November, Jo is raising awareness of the early signs and symptoms of lung cancer and urging people to visit their GP if they have any concerns.

She said: “We are seeing more emergency admissions for lung cancer across the board and people being diagnosed in the advanced stages which means treatment can be less successful.

“I think some people are still nervous about going to their GP, or into hospital for tests due to Covid-19, so they’re ignoring the possible earlier symptoms of lung cancer which is really concerning.”

The charity has compiled a list of symptoms of lung cancer, which included:

-A cough or hoarse voice for three weeks or more

-A change in a cough you have had for a long time

-A chest infection that does not get better, or repeated chest infections

-Feeling breathless and wheezy for no reason

-Coughing up blood

-Chest pain or shoulder pain that does not get better.

-Weight loss for no obvious reason

-Feeling extremely tired (fatigue)

Jo added: “While we are living with Covid-19 it’s even more important for people to be vigilant and proactive when it comes to their health.

“We’ve seen people who have been diagnosed with lung cancer having had a cough for several weeks which they mistakenly put down to Covid-19.

“It is vital to visit your GP if you have a persistent cough which lasts three weeks or more.”

During the pandemic, the Macmillan lung cancer team implemented measures to speed up diagnosis, supporting consultants with nurse-led clinics and monitoring referrals to support faster access to CT scans.

“We want to reassure everyone that Covid safe procedures are in place in hospitals and GP surgeries so please don’t ignore the earlier warning signs,” Jo continued.

“Lung cancer can advance very quickly, so early diagnosis is key. If it is picked up in the early stages there is a much higher chance of treatment being successful.”

If you are concerned about lung cancer contact your GP or call Macmillan’s support line on 0808 808 00 00 open Monday to Sunday, 8am to 8pm.