Lung cancer, lung disease and heart disease are all leading causes of death in England – yet an estimated 1.7 million people living with these conditions remain undiagnosed. PHE’s new Be Clear on Cancer campaign sets out to raise awareness of the symptoms of lung cancer, lung disease and heart disease – the first national campaign to collectively address these three conditions.
It highlights key symptoms, including having a cough for three weeks or more, or getting out of breath doing things you used to be able to do, that could be a sign of lung or heart disease, or lung cancer. We are urging anyone with these symptoms to visit their GP as the earlier that lung cancer, lung disease and heart disease are diagnosed, the more treatable they are.
How many people are affected by these three diseases?
It’s estimated that around 1.7 million people in England are living with undiagnosed lung cancer, lung disease, or heart disease: that includes around 80,000 undiagnosed cases of lung cancer, 1 million undiagnosed cases of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease – a common form of lung disease that includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis) and 600,000 undiagnosed cases of coronary heart disease.
Lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer, accounting for around 28,400 deaths each year, while COPD is the cause of a further 24,000 deaths. The single biggest cause of death in England is coronary heart disease (the main type of heart disease), causing over 56,000 deaths each year.
By encouraging people with these symptoms to go to their doctor, the campaign aims to improve earlier diagnosis of these diseases. Early diagnosis can save lives and improve the quality of life of those living with conditions such as COPD.
Who is the campaign aimed at?
The campaign is targeted at men and women aged 50 and over, as older people are most at risk of lung cancer, COPD and heart disease. It also targets those in a position of influence, such as family and friends.
The campaign will run for 14 weeks from 14 July – 16 October across TV, radio, press, digital, outdoor advertising and a programme of events in shopping centres across the country. Some black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups are also among those at higher risk, so there will also be targeted advertising and PR activity for these communities.
We know that many people who have symptoms such as a persistent cough can delay seeking treatment, perhaps because they are frightened, or feel they don’t want to bother anyone. People from lower socioeconomic groups often wait longest. Our campaigns such as Be Clear on Cancer aim to encourage people to access services and take control of their health by describing symptoms in simple terms and explaining the benefits of getting checked out.
Delaying a visit to the GP can really be the difference between life and death. We all need to spread the word to give more people the chance of a longer and healthier life.