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Not every cough is Covid-19

The NHS in Cheshire is urging people to contact their doctor if they have had a cough for more than three weeks.

The plea was made this week by hospital respiratory teams, GPs and NHS Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) following a sharp drop in people presenting with potential lung cancer symptoms during the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr Katherine Butler, the CCG’s cancer lead, said: “It’s perfectly understandable that people may have felt uncertain or worried about going into medical settings during the coronavirus pandemic but it is important for us all to remember that early diagnosis saves lives.

“The NHS in Cheshire is here for you. If something isn’t normal, don’t delay as early diagnosis saves lives. Contact your GP practice and get it checked.”

Other symptoms include:

  • Repeated chest infections
  • Coughing up blood
  • Feeling more tired than usual for six weeks
  • Losing weight for no obvious reason
  • An ache or pain in the chest or shoulder that has lasted some time

Dr Chris Brockelsby, consultant in respiratory and thoracic oncology at Leighton Hospital, Crewe added: “Some people may have had worrying lung symptoms and had a swab test for Covid-19. But what if that test was negative? Well that in itself is good news of course. But there are other lung conditions which can cause similar symptoms to coronavirus – including lung cancer.

“It’s important to identify the cause of these symptoms if you don’t have coronavirus. And it’s important to do that in a timely manner.”

Throughout the pandemic Cheshire GP practices have remained open but with important changes to keep people safe. Your first contact is now likely to be a telephone or video consultation. If a face-to-face meeting is needed, GPs have new procedures aimed at keeping people safe.

The Countess of Chester Hospital, Leighton Hospital and Macclesfield District General Hospital have also made important changes to keep patients safe when attending for tests.

Dr Andrew Wilson, the CCG’s Clinical Chair, urged: “If you know of a family member or loved one who is anxious or even ignoring their symptoms, please encourage them to talk to their GP, reminding them that early diagnosis really is the best way to identify the cause of their symptoms and get early treatment.

“Smoking is still the main cause of lung cancer. If you’re a smoker or ex-smoker, your doctor will want to know when looking at your risks of having or developing lung disease. But even if you’ve never been a smoker, you should still not ignore symptoms.

“Remember, if it’s not normal for you, get it checked.”