A HEALTH campaign has launched encouraging people to contact their GP if they have a new or persistent cough or unusual breathlessness for three weeks or more in an effort to return to pre-pandemic cancer detection levels.

These could be the early signs of lung cancer – and it’s important to get checked, especially if you’re over 40.

While lung cancer is the most common cancer in Scotland, with around 5500 new cases diagnosed every year, more people than ever are surviving the disease. This is down to improved treatments and more people being diagnosed earlier.

The campaign has been developed in response to Public Health Scotland’s data that shows around 25% fewer lung cancers are being diagnosed now compared to pre-Covid-19. This, coupled with the fear of a potential cancer diagnosis continues to stop people acting early, when there are more treatment options available and the chance of survival is higher.

The campaign, entitled Settling In, aims to empower people to take responsibility for getting any potential symptoms checked.

Since the launch of the £43 million Detect Cancer Early Programme the proportion of lung cancer diagnoses at the earliest stage have increased by 43% and by 57% in the most deprived areas of Scotland.

Launching the campaign, 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.

“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.”

Co-chair of Scottish Primary Care Cancer Group Lorna Porteous added: “During the pandemic appointments may be done by either telephone or video so when you do get in touch, please give as much information as you can. You will be asked to come in for a face-to-face appointment if we need to examine you or do some tests – measures are in place to ensure your safety.”