A MACMILLAN cancer nurse from Swindon is urging people not to ignore the early signs and symptoms of lung cancer as emergency hospital admissions increase.

People being afraid of catching coronavirus is stopping them from visiting their GP and hospital - which then leads to a late diagnosis.

Rachel Smith is the Macmillan lung cancer clinical nurse specialist at Great Western Hospital. She suggested one Covid-19 symptom - a persistent cough - is causing confusion for some patients as it is a possible sign of lung cancer as well.

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

Noticing and diagnosing lung cancer early can increase the effectiveness of the patient's treatment and boost the chance of it being cured.

Rachel 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.

"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.

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

Lung cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK with around 48,500 people being diagnosed with it each year.

Rachel added: “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. 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.”

Symptoms include having 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 which does not get better, or repeated chest infections, feeling breathless and wheezy for no reason, coughing up blood, chest pain or shoulder pain which does not get better, weight loss for no obvious reason, and feeling extremely tired.

If you are concerned about lung cancer contact your GP or call the Macmillan support line on 0808 808 00 00, which is open between 8am and 8pm ever day.

More information about the signs and symptoms of lung cancer can be found at www.macmillan.org.uk