Don’t let shame over smoking see you become a lung cancer victim

YOU might want to get that cough of yours checked out. Yes, the weather is taking a turn for the worse and sniffy germs are going round faster than news about a royal marriage, but If you’ve been battling a cough that just won’t shift, then please do not ignore it.
Of all the diseases not to get, lung cancer ranks near the top of the league table of all-time-most-horrible illnesses. A third of people who are diagnosed with lung cancer will die within 90 days and – to rub salt into the wounds – those who are afflicted often live beneath a stigma of shame. 
Most cancer patients are seen as innocent victims to life’s cruel roll of the dice, but lung cancer patients are seen as ‘guilty as charged’ for their “selfish” nicotine addiction. You might not say it, but The lurking belief among many of us is: “It’s your fault, you knew the risks of smoking!” This must change.
Breast cancer and leukaemia get all the headlines but lung cancer is still the UK’s biggest cancer killer. In the words of one lung cancer patient: “I’ve been given a death sentence, but it’s my own fault. I didn’t realise why my cough was getting worse, and neither did my GP.  But anyway, I don’t deserve to be treated because I brought this on myself.” 
Some lung cancer patients even tell their friends and family that they have a different type of cancer, such is the blame they feel. 
One of the greatest tragedies of this grim disease is that if it is caught soon enough then it can often be cured. But given lung cancer is seen as “your fault”, it’s hardly surprising that many smokers and ex-smokers would rather bury their heads in the sand than go see a doctor. It can be difficult for a doctor to spot but A simple chest X-ray will typically give all the answers. 
A report published three years ago in the British Medical Journal found that patients who died from lung cancer had visited their GP an average of five times in the months before diagnosis. 
Thankfully, guidelines have been updated. You’ll be sent for an urgent chest X-ray if you’re a smoker or ex-smoker, aged over 40 and have had a cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, weight loss, or appetite loss. If you ever cough up blood, then don’t even blink before booking an appointment with your doctor.
Lung cancer treatments have come a long way in recent years – something else you never hear about. Ann Long is now 81 years old and was diagnosed with lung cancer: “I would urge anybody with symptoms that might be lung cancer, like a persistent cough, to see their doctor straight away. I’m glad I did. I was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2003 and I can still do all the things I did before my treatment, like long walks, swimming and spending time with my family.”
Even if you are a smoker chances are that you will get the all-clear – but that’s not a reason to put it off. If you suspected your car was leaking petrol then you wouldn’t think twice about getting it down to the garage, would you? It is true that most people who get lung cancer have smoked at some point there’s little point in playing the blame card. Much-loved TV personality Roy Castle never smoked. Many cancers are partly caused by lifestyle choices, such as how much we fruit and veg we eat, what we do for a job, how much we exercise, how much we drink, how much time we spend outdoors, how much polluted air we breathe in, and whether we are overweight 
The bottom line is simple: If you’ve had a cough for two weeks or more and have ever smoked then get it checked out. No blame.