Lung Cancer Awareness Month - November
Almost two-thirds of people with lung cancer ignore symptoms.
With almost two-thirds of lung cancers spreading before detection, the Cancer Institute NSW is urging people to seek medical advice as soon as they experience symptoms such as a persistent or changing cough.
In Far West Local Health District, more than 25 people are diagnosed with lung cancer every year. Research suggests many people ignore symptoms or put off seeking advice from their GP due to feelings of shame or guilt associated with a lung cancer diagnosis.
November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and this year health professionals are urging people who experience symptoms to make an appointment to see their GP and ask for further tests.
Acting CEO of the Cancer Institute NSW, Sarah McGill said while most lung cancers diagnosed in NSW are caused by tobacco use, it isn't always the case.
'Lung cancer is the leading cause of all cancer deaths in NSW,' Ms McGill said.
'Lung cancer does not affect only people who smoke. In fact, an increasing number of people, particularly younger women, who have never smoked are being diagnosed.
'What's more concerning is that almost two-thirds of those cancers have spread before they are detected.
'It's important for people to know that a lung cancer diagnosis does not need to be a death sentence. People in NSW have some of the best cancer survival rates in the world. If you detect lung cancer early you are much more likely to have better long-term health outcomes.
'For that reason, it is vital for people to be aware of the symptoms. If you have a persistent cough lasting longer than three weeks, a cough that changes over time, or if you are coughing up blood, you should speak to your GP and ask for a chest X-ray,' Ms McGill said.
Melissa Cumming, Program Director Cancer Services said when it comes to reducing the risk of developing lung cancer, it is important to focus on the lifestyle factors we can control.
'While it's important to be aware of the symptoms, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can make a huge difference to your health and, if you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do to significantly reduce the risk of developing lung cancer,' Ms Cumming said.
There are many proven methods to quit smoking. For information, tips and support tools visit www.iCanQuit.com.au, call NSW Quitline on +61 137848 or talk to a health care professional.
The NSW Government is investing $14 million on tobacco control programs in 2020-21.