A gran-of-four who had her right lung removed after a tumour was discovered has urged people over 40 to get lung cancer symptoms checked early.
Liz Clark, who lives in Cults, Aberdeen, was successfully treated back in 2013 after she went to see her GP about a persistent cough, and now says she is going to “grab every opportunity”.
She was discharged in 2019 – a lengthy recovery from the surgery, but no further treatment was required, and she is now no longer even in remission.
And now the 65-year-old is backing the Detect Cancer Early campaign, which asks people to visit their GP as soon as possible if they have developed potential symptoms.
Those symptoms can include unusual breathlessness or a persistent cough that is new or different, and has lasted for three weeks or more.
‘I can’t wait to travel again’
Retired lecturer Mrs Clark said: “Receiving a cancer diagnosis and going through surgery was a big thing for me to deal with, but I now feel like I’ve come out the other end of it.
“I’ve been given a second chance at life, thanks to my cancer being found when it was.
“Like everyone else, life has been on hold due to the pandemic, but I can’t wait to get back to travelling once things are less restricted. I’m going to grab every opportunity.
“If you’re worried, my advice would be to get checked. It’s likely to be nothing, but if it is something, there’s more that can be done if it’s found early.
“I’m no longer even in remission, I’m essentially cured and that is a huge thing.”
Diagnoses hit by pandemic
The campaign has been developed in response to data from Public Health Scotland showing that around 25% fewer lung cancers are being diagnosed now compared to pre-pandemic.
Contributing factors are thought to be a reticence to get symptoms checked during the pandemic, coupled with the fear of a potential cancer diagnosis.
However, more treatment options are available when a cancer is caught early, which means the chance of survival is higher.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “More people are surviving cancer than ever before, but we know that fear of cancer is putting people off getting checked or attending screening, when invited.
“Don’t ignore early cancer signs and symptoms, and certainly don’t delay getting checked.
“NHS Scotland remains open during Covid-19 and your GP practice is still there for you – getting checked early is a hugely important step in finding out if you, or your loved one, needs urgent medical help.
“While it’s probably nothing to worry about, a quicker diagnosis can mean less worry. If cancer is confirmed, more treatment options are available if it’s found early.”
For more information about lung cancer symptoms, visit the NHS Scotland website on getcheckedearly.org