A north-east cancer survivor has spoken out about her journey to encourage people to act quickly and get checked if they have any symptoms.
Worrying new statistics show around 25 per cent fewer lung cancers are being diagnosed now, compared to in pre-Covid times.
The Detect Cancer Early campaign is urging people to contact their GP if they have tested negative for the virus, but have a persistent new or different cough for three weeks or more.
Ruthra Coventry was diagnosed with stage one lung cancer in October 2018, after seeing her GP about persistent illness and chest infections – something that was unusual for the otherwise fit and healthy mum of one.
The 40-year-old anesthetist, from Aberdeen, shared her experience with lung cancer to support the new campaign, which is raising awareness about the importance of early diagnosis.
‘Don’t put it off, because it could save your life’
Initially putting down the symptoms to her two-year-old bringing home bugs from nursery, Ms Coventry realised “something was really not right” when she began coughing up blood.
“Cancer was the last thing I expected to hear as I was young and the fittest I’d ever been, having recently run my first 10k,” she said.
“As soon as I heard the word mass, I went into denial. It was such a shock and I couldn’t process it at all.
“But my tumour was found early. I feel lucky it was diagnosed at a stage where it was localised, and able to be removed with surgery, without the need for chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
“Based on what happened to me, my message to anyone would be to get checked.
“I know it’s easy to put off, but it can make all the difference to being diagnosed at a stage where its able to be treated.”
Lung cancer is the most common cancer in Scotland, with around 5,000 people diagnosed each year.
Health Secretary Jeanne Freeman is urging those aged 40 and over not to put off contacting their GP practice if they have any possible cancer symptoms.
She said: “Diagnosing and treating cancer has been and will remain a key priority throughout the Covid pandemic.
“Please don’t delay seeking help as the earlier lung cancer is found the better, and a lot can be done to treat it.
“I want to reassure people that whilst the NHS is working differently, and they may not be able to see their GP in person, their practice is there to help them access key tests and support them through the process.”
For more information, visit getcheckedearly.org.