COVID-19 didn’t stop a quick cancer diagnosis for Lancashire man

71-year-old Gwam didn’t think he was in danger of serious issues with his lungs, until he developed a cough he could not ignore. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, cancer services have remained a priority for the NHS. Investigations, diagnosis, and treatment are continuing, and local teams are working hard to ensure that the NHS is there to see patients safely.

At the beginning of the pandemic, there was a sharp drop in the number of patients contacting their GPs with suspected lung cancer. From April 2020 – January 2021 compared to the previous year, urgent lung cancer referrals in Lancashire and South Cumbria dropped by 32%. If this continues, more people will be diagnosed later, resulting in a lower chance of survival. Finding and treating lung cancer at an early stage can save lives.

Gwam said: “I had a nagging cough for a number of months, but I didn’t think much of it until I began to cough up blood. I have been a fairly fit man, always been healthy, I go to the gym five times a week, never been a smoker or been exposed to any hazardous materials. So, I thought I’d be unlikely to have any problem with my lungs.

“I called my GP with my concerns and was quickly referred to a specialist for an urgent face-to-face consultation at the hospital. Tests showed a shadow on my lungs which was diagnosed as lung cancer. I was in surgery within a matter of weeks and have since completed chemotherapy treatment, followed by radiotherapy.

“Now, I’m in good health, back at work and doing lots of walking to stay fit and have a review consultation booked in. I’m so glad I spoke to my GP with my concerns because catching lung cancer early makes it more treatable.”

Dr Neil Smith, local GP and Primary Care Director for Lancashire and South Cumbria Cancer Alliance said:

“At the moment if you hear a cough, you automatically think COVID. But a persistent cough that lasts for three weeks or more, or that changes or gets worse, is also one of the most common symptoms of lung cancer and should not be ignored.

“Contact your GP if you have a new persistent cough, are coughing up blood, have new breathlessness, unexplained tiredness, or weight loss. These could all be symptoms of lung cancer. It’s probably nothing serious, but it’s important to get checked out because early diagnosis saves lives.

“It’s important that if something isn’t normal for you or you have concerns about possible signs and symptoms of cancer, you speak to your GP. GPs like me are here to help you.”

Advice about cancer signs and symptoms

Information about cancer and COVID-19