TV doctor helps launch ‘giant lung roadshow’ targeting cancer hotspots

TV doctor Dr Chris George is backing a campaign to educate people on lung cancer symptoms after his mother was diagnosed with the condition.

He was joined at the launch of the Let’s Talk Lung Cancer Roadshow by Cathy Brokenshire, whose husband, former Cabinet minister James Brokenshire, died of the disease last year aged 53, and who is now ambassador for the Roy Castle Lung Foundation.

NHS England is touring the country with a pair of walk-through inflatable 12-foot lungs as Health Minister Will Quince declared more must be done to tackle lung cancer deaths.

Dr George said: “Speaking as a GP, I cannot stress enough how important it is to contact your GP practice if you are experiencing a persistent cough for three weeks or more.

“Whilst it’s probably nothing serious, a cough for three weeks or more could be a sign of lung cancer and finding cancer earlier makes it more treatable. Your NHS is here and we want to see you.”

The lungs, which are expected to “raise eyebrows”, will be taken to shopping centres and high streets across England to try to help improve cancer detection rates.

It comes as a new survey showed less than two-thirds of the public recognised a key symptom of the disease.

The roadshow will launch in the North West next week before travelling around the rest of the country in October.

Let’s Talk Lung Cancer Roadshow
Cathy Brokenshire and Dr Chris George at the launch of the Let’s Talk Lung Cancer Roadshow (Yui Mok/PA)

It will visit 26 locations, including Blackpool, Sunderland, Bradford, and Dudley, with the tour ending in London. NHS data shows these areas have significantly higher rates of lung cancer.

The inflatable lungs are large enough for visitors to step inside, where they can learn about the impact of smoking, while volunteers will encourage those with symptoms to visit their GP.

According to a recent survey, only 57% of the public recognised a cough for more than three weeks as a possible sign of lung cancer.

Just over half (55%) said they would contact their doctor in this situation, while around a quarter (24%) said they would do nothing or wait.

“Lung cancer kills nearly 27,000 people each year in England, and we must do more to fight this disease,” Mr Quince said.

Launch of lung cancer campaign
Former Cabinet minister James Brokenshire, a non-smoker, died of lung cancer last year aged 53 (Aaron Chown/PA)

“Raising awareness of the main symptoms is crucial, and this new NHS Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation campaign will encourage people to open up about their health.”

The number of people coming forward for lung checks has now returned to pre-pandemic levels, with more than 10,000 referrals taking place over a two-month period.

“A life-saving diagnosis can begin with a simple conversation, and the NHS is doing everything it can to bring lung cancer to the forefront of people’s minds,” said Dame Cally Palmer, NHS national cancer director.

“Our targeted campaigns have been extremely successful in the past, catching hundreds of cancers early in communities which traditionally are less likely to come forward for checks.

“This novel scheme will no doubt raise eyebrows, but it will also raise awareness of early cancer detection, ultimately meaning a better chance of successful treatment.”