Lung Cancer Awareness Month- know the signs and symptoms

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Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers among both men and women in Northern Ireland, with around 1300 cases diagnosed each year.

During Lung Cancer Awareness Month (November) the Public Health Agency (PHA) wants to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms and encourage people to take action if they are concerned.

Some symptoms of lung cancer are similar to those of COVID-19, like a cough.

Dr Louise Herron, Consultant in Service Development and Screening with the PHA said: “If you’re aged 40 or older and have a persistent new or different cough for three weeks or more, contact your GP practice now, even if you have recently tested negative for COVID-19.

“It is important that people see their GP if they have symptoms of lung cancer such as breathlessness or a persistent cough.”

Symptoms of lung cancer may include:

•         a persistent cough;

•         a sudden change in a cough that you have had for a long time;

•         unexplained weight loss;

•         breathlessness;

•         chest pain – this is usually intermittent (stop-start) and is often made            worse when breathing or coughing;

•         coughing up blood-stained phlegm.

Early diagnosis of lung cancer is important because early treatment can be more effective and survival can be improved.

“Being aware of the signs and symptoms of lung cancer is important,” said Dr Herron.

“If you have any of the signs or symptoms, speak to your GP. It may not be anything serious but if it is lung cancer, finding it early can have a big impact on treatment and survival.”

For more information on the signs and symptoms of lung cancer see

The Public Health Agency’s website ‘Stop Smoking NI’ offers a range of information and advice for those wanting to quit smoking, including information on local stop smoking services. You can also order your free ‘Quit Kit’ to give you the best chance of success in becoming smoke free. Visit

Notes to the editor

An audio clip of Dr Louise Herron is available at