According to new research, cost is the main barrier for people not attending their GP to get early lung cancer symptoms checked.
In an Irish Cancer Society survey of 1,000 people carried out by Core Research, 1 in 5 people said the cost of a doctor’s visit would prevent them from having worrying signs checked by a health care professional. 3 in 5 people also said their financial situation is worse now than it was 12 months ago.
The survey also found that one in two people are not confident in spotting the early signs of lung cancer, with younger people being least aware of the signs and symptoms of this serious disease.
Throughout November, the Irish Cancer Society is running a free Lung Health Roadshow in shopping centres throughout the country.
The aim of the Roadshow is to help the public identify symptoms they should not ignore and to reduce the likelihood of cost as a barrier to healthcare.
The Lung Health Roadshow schedule includes this important local date for Donegal people:
• November 15th -16th 2022– Letterkenny Shopping Centre.
These nurse-led pop-up clinics will be held in shopping centres in Navan, Letterkenny and Dundalk this month and travel to other parts of the country throughout the year.
The roadshow gives the public the opportunity to get a free health check and have a conversation with a nurse about their lung health. A referral for a GP will also be arranged where further help is needed.
In Ireland almost 2,700 people are diagnosed with lung cancer each year. Lung cancer is also the leading cause of cancer death in the country, with around 1,800 people dying from the disease annually. It is projected that by 2045, the number of those diagnosed with lung cancer on a yearly basis will increase to around 5,757 people.
Some of the common symptoms of lung cancer include wheezing or difficulty breathing, a cough that doesn’t go away or a change in a long-term cough, repeated chest infections that won’t go away, even after antibiotics and coughing up blood-stained phlegm.
November marks Global Lung Cancer Awareness Month and early detection is key to survival for lung cancer. Patients who present later in their illness face much more difficult treatment with less chance of success.
According to the latest available data from The National Cancer Registry Ireland, 6 in 10 lung cancers are diagnosed at stage three or four which reduces patients’ eligibility for curative treatment and reduces survival.
Commenting on the research, Rachel Morrogh, Director of Advocacy & External Affairs at the Irish Cancer Society said: “It is upsetting to think that people with symptoms of lung cancer are not seeking medical help because of concerns about cost. To address this, the Irish Cancer Society has put in place pop-up clinics where the public can have an initial conversation about their lung and general health.
“Our nurses make an assessment and refer them for further investigation if needed. Evidence from this model so far, indicates that people who have been putting off going to their doctor are more likely to take action about concerning symptoms after speaking to our nurses.
“We are committed to advocating for and providing healthcare that is within everyone’s reach. Our Support Line is also run by cancer nurses and I would encourage anyone who can’t get to a pop-up clinic to phone 1800 200 700 to seek advice.”
Sligo local Deirdre Staunton (52), who received a lung cancer diagnosis in 2021 added: “The day I was diagnosed with lung cancer I was in complete shock. I was the fittest I had ever been, regularly going for long walks, runs and hikes. For me the first sign that something wasn’t right was an uncomfortable shortness of breath and extreme fatigue.
“I would encourage others to be aware of anything that feels unusual in their body and to make use of services like the Roadshow if they are in your area. If you have any concerns, just go and get yourself checked out, because you won’t regret it.”