Many of us don’t know the warning signs of the most common—and deadly—forms of cancer. An alarming new survey reports that 26 percent of Americans can’t name even one symptom of lung cancer, the leading cancer killer of both men and women.
Overall, fewer than half of those polled identified shortness of breath as a warning sign of lung cancer, and only 39 percent a cough. Some respondents correctly identified more specific symptoms of concern, such as cough that gets worse or coughing up blood. The survey was conducted in 21 countries by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the Global Lung Cancer Coalition (GLCC).
The findings are frightening, given that the disease kills nearly 160,000 Americans a year. “Patients are often diagnosed at a very late stage when treatment is no longer an option,” says Matthew Peters, MD, chair of GLCC, in the press release. “If we can get patients diagnosed earlier, we can treat them and save lives. That is why being aware of the symptoms is so important.”
It’s tragically common for patients to ignore warnings of other types of cancer, adds Dale Shepard, MD, PhD, a cancer specialist in the department of solid tumor oncology at the Cleveland Clinic. “Cancer can almost always be cured if it’s caught early, but all too often, people wait so long to see a doctor that the disease has spread to the point that it’s no longer curable.”
If you notice any of the following unexplained warning signs, don’t delay—make the time to consult a doctor promptly.
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