Persistent cough 'could be warning sign of lung cancer': Stars who lost relatives to disease launch awareness campaign
Lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer in the UK and affects 33,000 people in England every year



08:46 GMT, 7 May 2012

Just one in 10 people realise that a persistent cough could be a key symptom of lung cancer, according to statistics released by the Government as it launches a campaign to raise awareness about the disease.

Despite the condition killing more people than any other form of cancer in England, very few people are aware a cough lasting three weeks is a sign of a potential sufferer.

An advertising drive backed by actor Ricky
Gervais and TV presenter Jenny Frost will be launched tomorrow in a bid to
raise awareness about the issue and improve earlier diagnosis in

Ricky Gervais

Jenny Frost

Actor Ricky Gervais and singer Jenny Frost are both backing the Government's 'Be Clear on Cancer' campaign, after both lost a parent to lung cancer

It is hoped Be Clear on Cancer campaign will help save around 1,300 lives a year.

Minister Paul Burstow said: 'Lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer
in this country but worryingly many people don't know the signs and
symptoms that could save their lives.

'The earlier lung cancer is diagnosed, the better the chance of survival.

'The message from this campaign is simple; if you have a persistent cough for three weeks or more, visit your GP.'

Lung cancer affects 33,000 people every year in England with the majority of cases occurring in people over the age of 55.

When diagnosed at its earliest stage,
as many as 80 per cent of people are alive five years after diagnosis compared
with only seven per cent diagnosed at a late stage.

Alex Ferguson

Jenny Frost

Manchester United captain Sir Alex Ferguson lost both his mother and father to lung cancer, while Lynda Bellingham lost her sister

campaign is being supported by a host of stars, many of whom have been
touched personally by the disease. Manchester United captain Sir Alex
Ferguson, 70, lost both parents to lung cancer.

He told the
Manchester Evening News: 'My father was 66 when he died and my mother
was only 64. Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer only a week after he
retired and within 12 months it had killed him.

'Then my mum, who had smoked all her life, was diagnosed with lung cancer as well and she passed away a few years after my dad.'

Actor Ricky Gervais, who lost his mother to lung cancer when she was 74, said the condition was 'devastating'.

'It's a horrible, horrible disease,' he said.

Singer Jenny Frost cancelled her wedding in 2010 after her mother Rita succumbed to lung cancer.

celebrity supporters include actor Robert Powell, author Tony Parsons and actress Terry Dwyer who lost their fathers and Dragon Duncan Bannatyne
who lost his mother. I'm A Celebrity star Stephanie Powers and writer Cassandra Jardine battled the disease themselves.

Alex Ferguson

Campaign backers: Sir Alex Ferguson, Stephanie Powers, Tony Parsons and (bottom row) Linda Robson, Mark Lawrenson and Cassandra Jardine

The campaign follows an awareness-raising pilot in the Midlands
in October last year. This showed improved knowledge of lung cancer and increased confidence in recognising the symptoms. There
was a 23 per cent increase in attendance to primary care. Based on a
sample of trusts, there was an increase in referrals for chest x rays
and chest CT scans compared with the same period in the previous year.

Professor Sir Mike Richards, National Cancer Director for England, said: 'It is vital that cancer patients get treated quickly so they have the best chance of surviving. We have made early diagnosis central to our Cancer Outcomes Strategy.

'Earlier diagnosis of Lung Cancer combined with the best treatments could help save an additional 1,300 lives a year.'

Paula Chadwick, chief executive of the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, added: 'We really hope people will begin to associate a persistent cough as a symptom of lung cancer, the way they associate a lump as a symptom of breast or testicular cancer.'

Jenny Frost

Supporters: Ricky Gervais, Robert Powell, Nilesk Shukla, Lynda Bellingham with (bottom row left to right) Duncan Bannatyne,Tricia Penrose, Jenny Frost and Terri Dwyer