PEOPLE are still failing to spot the key sign of lung cancer, a cough lasting for more than three weeks, Northamptonshire health bosses have warned.
The message comes as latest statistics reveal 406 people in the county were diagnosed with the disease in one year.
In the same period 345 people in the county died from it.
Health experts know spotting lung cancer early is likely to save lives.
Nationally, when diagnosed at its earliest stage, up to 80 per cent of people are alive five years later. That compares with seven per cent who were diagnosed at a late stage.
Dr Chris Kenny, chairman of East Midlands Cancer Network, said: “With lung cancer claiming around 2,500 lives in the East Midlands, it’s important that we are more aware of the symptoms and, if worried, visit the GP straight away.
“Earlier diagnosis could potentially save hundreds of lives across our region.
“If you’ve had a cough for three weeks or more, make an appointment today. It may be nothing serious, but it is better to have it checked out early to be sure.”
The cough symptom is the focus of an NHS Northamptonshire campaign.
It includes free chest x-rays at clinics in Corby and a general raising of awareness of the three week rule of thumb.
However, despite the disease killing more people than any other form of cancer in England, the symptom still fares worse in public awareness compared to knowledge of other cancer signs.
About 69 per cent know about looking out for a lump, 31 per cent of people know bleeding is a sign and one in four know the change in appearance of a mole should also prompt a check-up.
But new data reveals only one in 10 people know the potential seriousness of a persistent cough and that, if dealt with early, their life could be saved.
Paul Burstow, the care services minister said: “Lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer in this country but worryingly many people don’t know the signs and symptoms that could save their lives.”
Following some five-week-long pilots in the East and West Midlands last year, GPs there saw the number of people presenting with the relevant symptoms increase by 23 per cent.
Mr Burstow said: “The message from this campaign is simple; if you have a persistent cough for three weeks or more, visit your GP.”