Scots with persistent cough urged to get cancer screening

A new cough or unusual breathlessness can be early signs of lung cancer, a new campaign has warned.

Scots with persistent cough urged to get cancer screening Sturti via Getty Images
Screening: Scots urged to have persistent coughs checked by GP.

Scots over the age of 40 have been urged to get checked for cancer if they have a persistent cough for more than three weeks as part of a new campaign.

The Detect Cancer Early (DCE) campaign aims to get those with a new cough or unusual breathlessness, which can be early signs of lung cancer, to contact their GP.

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, the Scottish Government has said the number of lung cancer diagnoses dropped by a quarter, but the DCE campaign has seen figures increase by 43% since it was launched.

Among those calling for people to come forward include new health secretary Humza Yousaf and snooker referee Leo Scullion.

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The 63-year-old, who officiated the sport’s World Championship final in 2019, was diagnosed in 2014 but after chemotherapy and radiotherapy, Mr Scullion was told he was in remission in 2019.

“I was aware I was coughing, but it became noticeable to those around me,” he said.

“I was in China for a tournament and put it down to the smog at that time, and the fact I was a smoker.

“I did have other symptoms which I now know were warning signs. I was waking up in the middle of the night with terrible sweats, and by the time I came back home, I was feeling pretty horrible.

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“Looking back, I think I knew there was something more going on, your body just tells you.”

He added: “When I was at the sharp end and I needed help, the NHS was there for me.

“If you’re worried about any unusual changes to your health, or worried about someone close to you, go and get checked. It really is that simple.

“The sooner they can find out what is wrong, the better. I’m very grateful I went when I did.

“There were times when I wondered whether I’d be back refereeing. To be back working at a professional level, and to have my health, is tremendous.

“There is life after a diagnosis, and I intend to cause havoc for the rest of it.”

Health secretary Humza Yousaf said: “More people are surviving cancer than ever before, but we know that fear of cancer is putting people off getting checked or attending screening, when invited.

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“Don’t ignore early cancer signs and symptoms, and certainly don’t delay getting checked.

“NHS Scotland remains open during Covid-19 and your GP practice is still there for you – getting checked early is a hugely important step in finding out if you, or your loved one, needs urgent medical help.

“While it’s probably nothing to worry about, a quicker diagnosis can mean less worry. If cancer is confirmed, more treatment options are available if it’s found early.”