Been coughing for 3 weeks? Tell your doctor.

A persistent cough could be a sign of lung cancer.

Finding it early makes it more treatable.

…about lung cancer

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in England. There are some 33,000 new cases every year. It kills more men and women than any other form of cancer.

Lung cancer affects people of all ages but is most common in those who are over 50. Although it is more common in smokers, around one in eight people with lung cancer has never smoked.

The risk of lung cancer gets worse as you get older, but fi nding it early improves the chances of successful treatment. So if you have had a cough for three weeks or more, it’s worth visiting your doctor to be on the safe side.

…about how to spot it

You need to see a doctor straight away if you have been coughing for the past three weeks or more. Some of the other symptoms of lung cancer include:

  • A cough that has got worse or changes
  • Repeated chest infections
  • Coughing up blood
  • Breathlessness
  • Feeling more tired than usual for some time
  • Losing weight for no obvious reason
  • An ache or pain in your chest or shoulder that has lasted some time.

…about how important it is to see your doctor

If you notice any of these symptoms, tell your doctor right away. Detecting lung cancer early makes it easier to treat, so seeing your doctor quickly may save your life. It’s probably nothing serious but it could also be a sign of something else that needs treatment.

So, don’t ignore the symptoms or put off a trip to the doctor. It can make the world of difference and you won’t be wasting anyone’s time.

And if you know anyone who has any of these symptoms, insist they see their doctor. Again, it’s probably nothing serious, but they should get it checked out.

…about your visit to the doctor

You can find your doctor’s contact details at

Your doctor will ask you a few questions, like the ones below, and may suggest a chest x-ray. This is standard procedure and nothing to worry about. Taking an x-ray is quick and simple and doesn’t require an overnight hospital stay.

Your doctor might ask you some of these questions:

  • How long have you had a cough?
  • Has your cough changed over time?
  • Have you coughed up any blood?
  • Have you had any chest infections recently?
  • Have you been short of breath? For how long?
  • Has your shortness of breath changed over time?
  • Have you lost any weight?
  • Have you had a pain in your chest or shoulder?
  • Has this pain changed over time?

It may help to write down your symptoms and how you feel, so you don’t forget anything on your visit.