November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, a time for highlighting the needs of people with lung cancer and promoting ways to prevent, treat and live with this disease. Quality and evaluation officer Rachael takes a look at lung cancer symptoms and risk factors.

Lung cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK. About 46,400 people are diagnosed with it each year. The number of men diagnosed with lung cancer is reducing but the number of women diagnosed with it is increasing. The main reason for this is that more men are giving up smoking, while more women are smoking -  and starting at a younger age.

Many of us know that smoking is the biggest risk factor in developing lung cancer. If you do smoke, then stopping will reduce your risk over time. After about 15 years of stopping smoking your risk of lung cancer is almost the same as a non-smoker.

If you’re looking for information or support, try our information on giving up smoking, online or in print.

As part of lung cancer awareness month, we want to spread the message that:

• anyone can get lung cancer but people who smoke have a much greater risk

• earlier diagnosis means a better chance of successful treatment.

As with many cancers, an earlier diagnosis can make lung cancer easier to treat. It means there are more treatment options to successfully treat the cancer or to help people to live for longer.

In this video, Paula Wells, clinical oncologist, talks about lung cancer and how important it is to seek help early:

Lung cancer is less likely to be diagnosed at an early stage than some other types of cancer. One way of improving this situation is to raise awareness of the symptoms of lung cancer so that more people know when to seek help. The symptoms to look out for are:

• a cough for 3 weeks or more

• a chest infection that does not get better, or getting repeated chest infections

• a change in a cough you have had for a long time

• feeling breathless and wheezy for no reason

• coughing up blood

• chest or shoulder pain that does not get better

• a hoarse voice for three weeks or more.

These symptoms can be caused by other conditions but it’s always important to get them checked out with your GP.

Many people feel anxious about the possibility of cancer. But lung cancer treatments are improving and there is help and support available.

You can read lung cancer stories of people living their lives after treatment for lung cancer on the Roy Castle website.

This image is a quote from Frances saying My breathing gradually improved after I came out of hospital, but I still found that sudden activity could leave me gasping. So I started doing breathing and relaxation exercises and going for short walks, which helped build up my lung capacity

We want as many people as possible to be aware of this lung cancer and know how to take action. Our free booklet Understanding lung cancer is also available as an audiobook on CD or on SoundCloud. We have a factsheet about lung cancer translated into 11 languages. And if you have questions or concerns, call us free on 0808 808 00 00 to talk to one of our cancer information nurses.

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The Macmillan team is here to help. Our cancer support specialists can answer your questions, offer support, or simply listen if you need a chat. Call us free on 0808 808 00 00.

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