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Got a cough? Get a check campaign

Got a cough? Get a check – that’s the advice from the NHS to raise awareness of respiratory illnesses.

Many people don’t realise that a cough that lasts for three weeks or more can often be the sign of lung problems. So, the NHS in Leeds, and Leeds City Council have teamed up to raise awareness of this and the other common symptoms of lung illness; shortness of breath and persistent chest pain.

Free chest x-ray

If you are over 50, living in Leeds and have had any of the above symptoms for 3 weeks or more, then you can go along to one of the following venues for a free Chest X-Ray, no appointment is needed:
X-Ray Department, Seacroft Hospital, York Road, Leeds, LS14 6UH

Monday to Friday 9.30am to 4.30pm
St George's Centre, St George's Road, Middleton, LS10 4UZ

Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm
Leeds Chest Clinic X-Ray Department, Martin Wing, Leeds General Infirmary, Great George Street, LS1 3EX

Monday to Friday 9am to 4.30pm

Under 50's should speak to their GP or ring NHS 111

What is the campaign about?

The main reason for carrying out the campaign is to raise awareness of respiratory symptoms. These include a cough that lasts for three weeks or more, shortness of breath and persistent chest pain.

If respiratory illnesses – which are problems affecting the lungs – are caught early they can be treated more successfully. This is particularly important when we are talking about lung cancer, which if left untreated is often fatal.

How does lung cancer affect people in Leeds?

Few people realise that lung cancer is one of the UK’s biggest killers but also has one of the lowest survival rates. In Leeds, around 500 people a year are diagnosed with the disease, which can be treated successfully if caught early.

Unfortunately around 75 percent of those found to have the disease in our city are diagnosed in the latter stages of the illness meaning it is generally incurable and sadly many die within a year of diagnosis.

Who is the campaign aimed at?

The campaign focuses on the inner south and inner east of the city where local people are more likely to experience serious lung problems. Our data shows that a high proportion of the people diagnosed with lung cancer each year come from these parts of the city.

However, it’s really important that any adult who has a cough for more than three weeks speaks to their GP. They will suggest a chest x-ray which can detect any illness that needs treating.

What do we already know about local people’s awareness?

As part of the project some research was undertaken to find out what people know about lung cancer and what their views are on the campaign.

We found that:

  • awareness of lung cancer symptoms and warning signs was low;
  • smokers were less likely to know the signs of lung cancer;
  • three quarters of people didn’t realise that the risk of cancer increases the older you get; and
  • less than half of people asked would feel confident about spotting the symptoms of lung cancer.

We also know that a high proportion of people would see their GP as soon as possible if they thought they had a symptom of lung cancer. But, over a fifth of people would be worried about wasting a GP’s time.

What is the NHS doing about it?

Our innovative project aims to encourage people to be diagnosed more quickly so their chances of early treatment and survival are improved. To do this we are:

  • supporting local people to access information and signposting to health services through our community health education programme;
  • raising awareness of the warning signs – persistent cough, breathlessness or chest pain – through an advertising campaign;
  • delivering walk-in, chest x-ray services for the over 50s living in inner south and inner east Leeds. These are based at Seacroft Hospital and the St George’s Centre in Middleton; and
  • working with GPs to make sure people with symptoms are referred promptly for a chest x-ray.