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One in seven people still putting off seeking medical advice – Irish Cancer Society

Irish Cancer Society urges people to seek help for early signs of lung cancer amid new treatment hopes

New research shows public still hesitant to get medical advice for health concerns for a number of reasons

People who notice worrying changes in their lung health are being urged to seek help. This is amid new evidence that some people are putting off going to their GP of hospital when needed.

In the last three months, around one in seven people have put off seeking medical advice. This is even though they have felt unwell, according to new research.

Reasons for delaying going to a doctor include not thinking the issue was serious enough. Another reason is not wanting to bother their GP. Issues around getting in-person appointments, as well as concerns over personal safety amid the pandemic were also factors.

A survey of 1,000 people carried out by Core Research for the ICS also found half of those who put off seeking medical advice are still experiencing symptoms. They have yet to make an appointment to see their GP.

January marks the ICS’s Lung Cancer Awareness Month and early detection is key to survival for lung cancer. Patients who present later in their illness face a much more difficult treatment pathway with less chance of success. According to latest available data from The National Cancer Registry Ireland, 6 in 10 lung cancers are diagnosed at stage III or IV.

Beaumont Hospital Thoracic Oncologist spoke out about Lung Cancer

Dr. Jarushka Naidoo, said: “People who develop symptoms tend to be reluctant to come forward. This can be due to concern about poor outcome if a lung cancer is found. However, more than twenty new treatments have been developed for lung cancer in the last 5-10 years. These treatments have resulted in major improvements for our patients.

“Treatment for early stage lung cancer is given with the goal of cure. Early detection and diagnosis by being symptom aware will increase our ability to cure. If you are experiencing any symptoms of lung cancer, it is vital to contact your GP. Symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, weight loss.”

Irish Cancer Society Director of Advocacy commented on the research.

Rachel Morrogh said, “It should never be the case that someone avoids going to the doctor because they think a cancer concern isn’t serious enough.

“The increased focus on respiratory issues due to Covid-19 offers opportunities to talk about lung health. They also inform people what to look for. This is in addition to increasing awareness of the vital difference that catching cancer early can make. Some tell-tale signs to look out for include difficulty breathing, a persistent cough or chest infections, coughing blood or sudden weight loss.

“We don’t yet know what the impact of the pandemic will be on the stage of diagnosis of it, but we do not want to go backwards. The stated objective of the Cancer Strategy is to increase the number of cancers diagnosed at Stage 1 & Stage 2 – we can’t lose sight of this.

“Anyone who wants to talk about a cancer concern can get helpful advice and information from our Freephone Support Line on 1800 200 700,” she concluded.

Séamus Cotter, who received a lung cancer diagnosis in 2016, added: “If I hadn’t sought help when I did, then I wouldn’t have had access to the clinical trial that ultimately ended up saving my life. 

“Not thinking your health concern is serious enough is never a good enough reason to avoid looking after your health. Particularly with lung cancer as time is so important. If you have any concerns, make a late new year’s resolution to do yourself a favour and go look for help. This is because you won’t regret it.” 

Check in with your lung health using the Irish Cancer Society’s online lung health checker 

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