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'This doesn't need to continue': Concerns over 'worrying' rise in lung cancer diagnoses made in A&E

Recent data revealed that one in four lung cancer diagnoses are made in emergency departments.

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THE IRISH CANCER Society has raised concerns over the number of lung cancer patients who are being diagnosed with the disease when it is in its advanced stages.

It has also described as “worrying” a trend which has seen a significant number of patients receive their diagnoses in the country’s emergency departments.

According to the charity, around half of the 2,500 Irish people who are diagnosed with lung cancer every year discover that the disease is in its advanced stages.

When lung cancer is diagnosed at stage I or II, two-thirds of patients survive at least a year, compared with just one-quarter who are diagnosed at a later stage.

“Unfortunately, a late stage lung cancer diagnosis can mean treatment options are very limited and survival rates are much lower,” says Aoife McNamara of the Irish Cancer Society.

Recent data also showed that one in four patients who present with lung cancer are first diagnosed in Ireland’s A&E departments.

The statistics were released as the Irish Cancer Society launches Lung Cancer Awareness Month today, with the charity targeting symptom awareness and early detection.

More people die of lung cancer in Ireland than any other form of the disease, but the charity hopes that creating more awareness of the symptoms will give patients a better chance of early diagnosis and survival.

“There’s a worrying trend developing where patients are entering A&E with symptoms to be told for the first time that they have cancer,” McNamara said, adding that older lung cancer patients and those from deprived areas considered to be most at risk.

“This trend doesn’t need to continue; being lung aware and conscious of symptoms can mean being diagnosed earlier.

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“If you have a persistent cough, difficulty breathing or are wheezing, it’s really important that you speak with your doctor.”

The Irish Cancer Society also urged people to take its free online lung health checker, which also includes a printable summary that can be taken to a GP.

The charity said that those who suffered from a persistent cough or difficulty breathing did not necessarily have lung cancer, but said the symptoms were indicators that something may be wrong and should not be ignored.

It added that anyone with concerns about the health of their lungs should visit their GP.

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