Marie Keating Foundation launches Big Check Up campaign to detect early signs of lung cancer

The Marie Keating Foundation’s latest campaign, called the Big Check Up,  is launching a free phone line called ‘Cough Checker.’

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic there is a growing fear that many coughs (which could be an indicator of lung cancer) are not getting checked.

Sadly, lung cancer is Ireland’s biggest cancer killer and the foundation is concerned it is being masked by COVID-19 and flu during the pandemic.

The foundation has reported that despite early detection being crucial to improving survival rates, lung cancer referrals are down by 9% compared to last year and research shows more than a third of people (35%) are not confident they would notice a symptom of lung cancer.

Another issue is that people worry they are wasting their doctor’s time, something that has worsened since the Covid-19 pandemic.

This new campaign aims to encourage early detection and improve survival rates of lung cancer in Ireland. From Tuesday 24th November the world’s first cough checker phone-line has been launched to help catch lung cancer out and encourage the public to call their GP if they have concerns.

Lung cancer symptoms may be hiding behind COVID-19 and flu this coughing season, which could lead to further cases of late-stage diagnosis, according to the Marie Keating Foundation.

The Foundation has teamed up with broadcaster and author, Maia Dunphy to call on the people of Ireland to catch out lung cancer and dial 1800-COUGHS (1800-268447) if concerned.

Speaking about the Big Check Up campaign she said; “One in two of us will experience cancer personally at some stage, which is a difficult thing to imagine, even though it is a reality for so many.”

“My own Mum was diagnosed with cancer 20 years ago and we are very thankful that she is well today. By checking up on each other, and talking about our health, we can get more people to think about the early signs of lung cancer and get a worrying cough checked.”

“Covid-19 has taken so much from us already, don’t let it hide the signs of a lung cancer cough.”

Dr Una Kennedy, GP Advisor with the NCCP, who voices the Cough Checker phone-line said, “We want everyone to understand how important it is to speak to a GP if concerned about constant cough, appetite loss, unexplained weight loss or you find you are easily breathless or really tired, and to have the confidence to get checked.”

“GP referrals to the lung cancer rapid access clinics are down by 9% compared to last year which is very worrying. We know people are cocooning or isolating from others at the moment, so they may be unsure about contacting their GP.”

“However, do not feel that you can’t contact or visit your GP because you are cocooning or because you are worried that the GP is busy due to COVID-19. Routine health care is still being provided by GPs during the pandemic. GPs are here to help and no matter what type of cough it is, the earlier it is diagnosed the better the outcome.”

Liz Yeates, CEO, Marie Keating Foundation said, “Lung cancer needs a good listener as it is extremely sneaky. This year it is hiding behind Covid-19 and flu, making it more dangerous than ever to ignore concerns.”

“Our new phone-line will give people the confidence to know it is okay to call their GP and to get ‘that’ cough checked out. The Marie Keating Foundation is here to support everyone at every step of their cancer journey, but we want to prevent cancer too.”

“We know that early detection improves survival. By recognising the warning signs as early as possible, we can catch lung cancer out.”

The free phone-line, 1800-COUGHS (1800-268447), will allow callers to hear advice from a GP on any suspicious cough they may have and includes advice on Covid-19, flu and lung cancer. To find out more about lung cancer and the Big Check Up cough checker phone-line, visit: mariekeating.ie


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