A new persistent cough isn’t always COVID-19

Doctors in Sefton are concerned that people who develop a persistent cough automatically assume it is COVID-19 related and are not seeking advice from their GP, when in fact it could be a sign of lung cancer.

Sefton health professionals are urging residents with any signs or symptoms of cancer to contact their GPs to discuss concerns. Early diagnosis of lung cancer can save lives.

Dr Debbie Harvey, Macmillan GP and cancer clinical lead at NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “There are often no signs or symptoms of lung cancer in the early stages, but early detection saves lives. So, if you have a new persistent cough (for three weeks or more), have noticed a change in a cough you have had for a long time, are coughing up blood, have new breathlessness, unexplained tiredness, loss of appetite, or weight loss, or an ache or pain in your chest or shoulder when breathing or coughing, you should speak to your GP as soon as possible as these could be a sign of lung cancer, especially if you have a history of smoking.

“If you have any of the Coronavirus symptoms – a new, persistent cough, a high temperature, or a change or loss in your sense of taste or smell – you should book a test online or by calling 119 and self-isolate. If you still have a persistent cough after receiving a negative coronavirus test result or after recovering from Coronavirus, please contact your GP to be assessed.”

Dr Graeme Allan, Macmillan GP and cancer clinical lead at NHS Southport and Formby CCG, said: “If you notice something that isn’t normal for you or you have any concerns about potential signs or symptoms of lung cancer, your GP should be your first port of call. We want people to know that the NHS is here to see you safely.

“During the pandemic, GPs are working very differently, they are using more telephone consultations and emails to help support patients. If you are asked to go into your GP practice, it is really important that you attend. Your GP surgery will be using all necessary precautions to reduce COVID risk and will only invite patients to attend if it is safe to do so. The NHS is still there for you if you need it.

“If you need medical help from your GP practice, contact them online, by an app or by phone. If you need urgent medical help, use the NHS 111 online service. If you cannot get help online, call 111. If it is a serious or life-threatening emergency, call 999.”

Information about signs and symptoms of lung cancer:

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