Early detection can lead to extra time

A campaign starring football legend Sir Alex Ferguson has been launched to help increase early detection of lung cancer in the Grampian area.

The distinguished manager is fronting a bold TV campaign that aims to build belief that lung cancer can be treated if detected earlier.

He talks about how early detection of lung cancer can give you ‘extra time’ to spend with your family.

He also stresses that, although he lost both parents to the disease, lung cancer is much more treatable these days, and people do survive it.

Lung cancer is the most common cancer in Scotland, with around 5000 people diagnosed with the disease each year.

In the five years between 2005 and 2009, there were 1914 incidences of lung cancer in the Grampian NHS board area.

Health Secretary Alex Neil said: “This new advert encourages people to get checked early if they have a persistent cough, anything that has changed or any concerns.

“Lung cancer is much more treatable than it used to be. The earlier lung cancer is detected the easier it is to treat and the better the chance of a successful outcome.

“More lives can be saved in Scotland through earlier detection. It is great to have such a recognisable face to front the campaign, and I’m sure Sir Alex Ferguson’s story will help to encourage people to get themselves checked early.

“This advert is part of our £30 million Detect Cancer Early programme, which is initially focusing on breast, bowel and lung cancer, and aims to increase the early detection of the disease by 25 per cent by the end of 2015.”

Sir Alex is backing the campaign as he lost both parents, who were in their sixties, to the disease. His father, Alexander, died in 1979, while his mother, Elizabeth, passed away in 1986.

He said: “I wanted to be involved in this campaign as I know the devastating impact cancer can have on families.

“But cancer’s not what it used to be and there are now treatments that can save or extend your life. So rather than doing nothing about it, I urge anyone who is worried to get checked as early as they can.”

The drive comes on the back of the Scottish Government’s widely successful breast cancer campaign, featuring Elaine C Smith, and bowel cancer advert, which was voiced by Still Game star Ford Kiernan.

The Health Secretary met with Jennifer Chapman, 55, from Aberdeen at the launch, who was diagnosed with lung cancer 13 years ago.

She said, “I think I knew there was something wrong with me and after seeing what my father went through, I knew the signs of lung cancer. So I was upset but in a way, not surprised.

‘‘I was very tired from the constant coughing and you become very conscious of it when you’re with people. So I just knew something wasn’t right.”

After being diagnosed, Jenny had four weeks of chemotherapy and a successful operation to remove a third of her lung. Her recovery from the operation was tough but her husband, friends and family encouraged her to get up and about.

She was struck down a year later when she was told she had a secondary brain tumour stemming from lung cancer. Jenny had radiotherapy immediately. That was over 10 years ago and she’s still here to tell her tale.

She said, “I’m still here, 13 years after being initially diagnosed. I shouldn’t have been here six months after being diagnosed but I am. And I live a very happy, fit life. It’s so important to go to your doctor with any concerns about your chest – the earlier the better as it could save your life.”

Lorraine Dallas, director of information & support, Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, said: “If you are not detected early, your chances of surviving lung cancer in Scotland are, sadly, very poor.

‘‘Sixty per cent of people are diagnosed when the disease is so advanced that there are few treatment options left available.’’