Lung cancer: GPs urged to be alert to risks of cough and shortness of breath

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Coughing and shortness of breath were the first symptom patients reported when they went on to be diagnosed with lung cancer.

(Rod Minchin/ The Irish News) — GPs are being urged to consider shortness of breath and a cough as potential predictors of lung cancer because they are becoming more common as the first symptom in diagnosis, a study suggests.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the UK and has a five-year survival rate of around 13 per cent.

Researchers examined 27,795 records of adults who were diagnosed with lung cancer between 2000 and 2017 at more than 600 UK GP practices to try to establish which symptoms patients present first to their doctor.

The team found an increase in both cough and shortness of breath as the first symptom patients reported when they went on to be diagnosed with lung cancer.

They found a decrease in patients who reported the first symptom to be coughing up blood, or loss of appetite, generally regarded as the headline symptom of lung cancer. (…)

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