Urgent warning as killer cancer symptoms being mistaken for Covid

KILLER cancer symptoms are being mistaken for coronavirus, with experts worrying that sick patients aren't receiving the treatment they need.

The NHS states that the key symptoms of Covid-19 are a new persistent cough, a loss of taste and smell and a high temperature.

But various studies have shown that alongside these symptoms, many people also suffer with fatigue and shortness of breath, which can overlap with lung cancer.

There are around 48,500 new lung cancer cases in the UK every year, equating to 130 every day.

It's the third most common cancer in the UK and the second most common cancer in women.

Early diagnosis is key for any cancer and the sooner it's spotted, the faster specialists can treat the patient.

Experts at Cancer Research UK have now said that urgent action is needed and that people with symptoms of lung cancer should come forward.

The charity said that since the pandemic, the number of people seeing specialists for the cancer is 10 per cent lower than expected.

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Data from NHS England shows that 560 fewer people were seen by a specialist following an urgent lung cancer referral in November 2021.

In it's own polling, Cancer Research UK found that many GPs were concerned with the number of people who were coming forward with suspected lung cancer.

The results of the poll showed that 74 per cent of GPs believed this was because patients had not been presenting to primary care.

Other GPs said that patients were reluctant to go to hospital due to the worries around coronavirus.

Cancer Research UK's head of early diagnosis, Dr Jodie Moffat said the pandemic has made things challenging when it comes to catching lung cancer cases.

"For lung cancer in particular it does seem to be one of those cancers where for some people, delays of days and weeks really could make a difference", she told The Times.

She added that before the pandemic, diagnosis had been fast.

The charity states that 85 per cent of people should start treatment within 72 days of an urgent GP referral.

In November, this figure was just 59 per cent, one of the worst rates on record.

Cancer Research UK said that this meant that around 13,700 patients had experienced delays in treatment.

The symptoms of lung cancer you need to know

While suffering with a lingering cough, feeling tired and losing your appetite could be mistaken for a virus or common cold, it may be the sign of something more serious and is worth getting check out.

Other symptoms of lung cancer can include:

  • Having a cough most of the time
  • A change in a cough you have had for a long time
  • Being short of breath
  • Coughing up phlegm which has signs of blood
  • Aches or pains in the chest or shoulder
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tiredness
  • Weight loss

Previous research from Bupa, found that there had been an uptick in people searching for lung cancer symptoms and lung cancer screening.

Dr Tim Woodman, Medical Director at Bupa UK Insurance said that anyone can get lung cancer, and that it's a myth that it's only people who smoke.

He said: "Smoking is the biggest cause of lung cancer, causing around nine in every 10 cases, although you can still develop it if you’re a non-smoker.

"Your risk of lung cancer is related to how much you smoke, how long you’ve been smoking and when you started smoking. It also depends on which type of cigarettes you smoke. 

"You’re at a higher risk of developing lung cancer if you regularly breathe in other people’s tobacco smoke (passive smoking), so it’s best to keep the environment around you smoke free."

He stated that many people with lung cancer have no symptoms at all at first.

"The early symptoms can be slight, such as a cough or feeling a bit out of breath. Other signs to watch out for include feeling tired, experiencing pain in your chest, and a loss of appetite.

"If you’re coughing up blood, have a persistent cough or are short of breath, see your GP as soon as possible, especially if you’re over 40", he added.

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