HEALTH chiefs have urged people to seek early help if they have symptoms which could be of lung cancer.

They implored patients to contact GPs and to go for tests if they have worries.

The plea came from officials of NHS Kirklees, who are urging people to be aware of lung cancer symptoms and seek help earlier to increase patient survival rates.

The appeal comes after The Examiner reported patients treated in this area are among the lowest in the country in terms of five-year survival rates.

The figures published in The Roy Castle Report showed patients treated by Kirklees PCT between 1998-2002 had only a 4.9% survival rate in the five year period, compared to 13% in Harrow.

However newly-released figures from the PCT show the survival rate has increased to 5.5% against a national average of 7.8%.

Kirklees Public Health Consultant Nicky Hardy said: “Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in men and the third most common in women – and more than nine out of 10 cases are caused by smoking.

“Although survival rates from cancers generally are improving, lung cancer persists as a major killer in England with fewer than 10% of sufferers surviving as long as five years.

“As a trust we are working with the newly-formed GP consortium to ensure doctors have the correct information to spot the signs of lung cancer early and increase survival rates.

“As with all cancers, early detection vastly improves survival rates. However, unlike for example cervical cancer, there is no screening programme for lung cancer.

“This makes it even more important for people to know the symptoms and see their GP if they have concerns to ensure early diagnosis and the best possible outcome.”

The figures come in the wake of the NHS Outcomes Framework which recognised that cancer survival rates in England are behind the best performing countries in the world and have identified one-year and five-year cancer survival as areas for improvement.

NHS Kirklees continues to encourage people who smoke and want to stop to contact the Stop Smoking Service for confidential expert advice from dedicated NHS professionals.

To contact the team call 01924 351498 01484 344285.

THERE are a variety of ways in which lung cancer may make itself known.

Some people only discover it during a routine medical check-up, whilst others may have had signs and symptoms for many months.

It is worth asking your doctor for an x-ray or second opinion if you have any of the following unexplained symptoms for more than three weeks:

A cough that doesn’t go away after two to three weeks.

Worsening or change of a long standing cough.

Repeated chest infections.

Coughing up blood.

Unexplained persistent breathlessness.

Unexplained persistent tiredness.

Unexplained persistent weight loss

Persistent chest and/or shoulder pain.

It may be that the actual lung tumour does not cause problems to the chest, but that the spread to other areas of the body is what actually alerts you or your doctor  to there being a problem.