1. ITV Report

What are the signs and symptoms of lung cancer?

Just 7 per cent of lung cancer patients in Wales survive for up to five years after they are diagnosed. Photo: PA

Campaigners say there needs to be a major public awareness campaign about lung cancer in Wales.

The UK Lung Cancer Coalition is calling for more to be done to warn people about the signs and symptoms of the disease.

The aim is making sure more people are diagnosed earlier - and improving what is currently a very poor survival rate here.

Wales is currently ranked 28th out of 29 European countries in terms of a survival rate.

What are the signs and symptoms of lung cancer?

The charity the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation says you should make an appointment with your GP if you have any of those symptoms for more than three weeks.

  • A cough that doesn't go away
  • A long-standing cough that gets worse
  • Unexplained breathlessness
  • Chest infections
  • Coughing blood
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Chest and/or shoulder pains
  • Unexplained tiredness or lack of energy
  • Hoarse voice

The charity's advice is: "Don't delay in visiting your GP. If it is lung cancer, early diagnosis and treatment could save your life."

The charity also lists what should happen next, after visiting your GP, if you do need more tests or are diagnosed with lung cancer.

Lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer in Wales, accounting for 22 per cent of all cancer deaths. Credit: PA

Are there sometimes other symptoms that don't seem related to lung cancer?

Yes - Cancer Research UK has information about what are known as paraneoplastic symptoms or paraneoplastic syndrome - when other types of lung cancer cells produce hormones that get into the bloodstream, and sometimes cause symptoms that do not seem related to lung cancer.

These symptoms often vary, but may include:

  • Pins and needles, or numbness in the fingers or toes
  • Muscle weakness
  • Drowsiness, weakness, dizziness or confusion
  • Breast swelling in men
  • Blood clots (thrombosis)

There is also a specific type of lung cancer, growing right at the top of the lung - called a pancoast tumour, which can cause very specific symptoms.

The most common syndrome is:

  • Severe shoulder pain, or pain that travels down the arm

Pancoast tumours can also cause a collection of symptoms called Horner's syndrome:

  • Drooping or weakness of one eyelid
  • A small pupil in that eye
  • Loss of sweating on that same side of the face

This video shows how one lady was diagnosed with the disease:

Is there any advice on how to reduce the risk of developing cancer?

Yes - Welsh cancer charity Tenovus has some advice about all forms of cancer - it says "making some simple changes to your lifestyle can significantly reduce your risk of developing cancer."

They include:

  • Keeping a healthy body weight
  • Having a healthy diet
  • Doing regular exercise
  • Staying safe in the sun
  • And, most importantly for lung cancer, not smoking

Tenovus says: "Tobacco is the single largest preventable cause of cancer in the world today. It causes 80-90 per cent of all lung cancer deaths."

The charity has more advice on how to give up smoking.

21 per cent of adults in Wales are smokers.