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GP face brunt of ‘bonkers’ lung cancer awareness scheme

The Department of Health has warned GP practices will face an increase in patients presenting with concerns about lung cancer, following the roll out of a national awareness campaign for the disease.

The campaign will launch from 8 May, and follows a similar campaign for bowel cancer that was announced last month.

The campaign will involve TV, radio, and press advertisements, messages in GP surgeries, and live events in high streets, encouraging people to see their GP if they had a cough for three weeks or more.

A pilot, which ran in the East and West Midlands last year, found a 23% increase among people seeing their GP with ‘relevant symptoms' following the campaign, which meant an extra 2.4 practice visits per week.

Sixty seven per cent of GPs from 35 practices questioned said they saw one or more patient with a persistent cough they thought might be lung cancer during and immediately after the pilot, compared with the same period in 2010.

Derbyshire LMC secretary Dr John Grenville, whose practice was involved in the pilot, said the scheme was ‘bonkers'.

‘The good news is that when this is rolled out nationally it will target the over 55s, although I understand it still won't target smokers, which is bonkers,' he said.

‘The big question is whether in 20 years time fewer people will be dying of lung cancer, and if so whether anyone will remember these campaigns.'