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Lung Cancer and COPD Awareness Month

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November is Lung Cancer and COPD Awareness month, campaigns aimed at highlighting two serious diseases affecting the lungs. The aim is to raise awareness of the symptoms and encourage early diagnosis so that sufferers can receive the most effective treatment.

Lung cancer is a disease where cells in the lungs malfunction and begin to multiply uncontrollably, eventually disrupting the lung function and spreading to other parts of the body. It affects mainly older people. Over 44,500 people in the UK are diagnosed with lung cancer each year.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) an umbrella term for a group of progressive lung conditions that cause trouble breathing. Conditions included under the COPD umbrella include emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and refractory (non-reversible) asthma. The conditions often appear together, although the exact nature of the relationship is still being studied.

In-Check Oral Inspiratory Flow Meter

Diagnosis

Lung cancer doesn't normally cause noticeable symptoms until it has spread enough to affect lung function. As a result, the prognosis is not as good as other types of cancer with two out of three people diagnosed passing away within a year.

Two of the initial symptoms for lung cancer and COPD are shortness of breath and/or a persistent cough. Patients suspected to have compromised lung function as a result of a disease like lung cancer or COPD usually undergo a spirometry test as an initial assessment. By breathing into a small instrument called a spirometer, lung function can be tested by a medical professional and further examinations can be provided if necessary.

A range of other respiratory monitors may also be used in asthma and COPD screening.

Peak flow meters which monitor breathing rate are mainly used for asthma but can also be useful for any condition which affects breathing, by identifying exacerbators and aid self-management.

Reducing Risk

As the biggest risk factor for lung cancer and COPD is smoking, medical experts advise that ceasing smoking is the best way to prevent lung cancer. Additionally, eating a varied diet of fruit and vegetables and exercising daily has been shown to be significant in preventing lung cancer and many other serious diseases.

For COPD, avoiding exposure to second-hand smoke and environmental pollutants can help to reduce the risk of developing the conditions, however, COPD can be caused by genetic factors so it is possible to still develop them without exposure.

If you do suspect a problem with your lungs, see your GP as soon as possible who will be able to carry out a detailed assessment.

Four Square Healthcare provide a range of equipment such as spirometers and peak flow meters which are used for diagnosing and monitoring lung function. All NHS funded GP surgeries, hospitals and trusts qualify for an automatic 30-day credit account, please contact us for more information.