Sir Alex Ferguson Hails Example Set By Lung Cancer Survivor

NHS Forth Valley backs drive urging locals not to ignore a three week cough

A man who survived lung cancer after seeking help early has been praised as setting a ‘great example to everyone in Scotland’ by Sir Alex Ferguson, as Lung Cancer Awareness Month gets underway.

The football legend, who fronts the Scottish Government’s Detect Cancer Early (DCE) lung campaign,  stars in a new film where he meets fan Tom Hart, 62, who was diagnosed with lung cancer after a GP check for his persistent cough led to a tumour being found in his right lung.

The pair discuss how Tom’s early diagnosis in 2011 led to successful treatment, and Sir Alex praises Tom for sharing his experience to urge others not to ignore a persistent cough.

The DCE lung campaign, running across Scotland throughout November, aims to drive awareness of the fact that a cough for three weeks or more could be a sign of lung cancer, in a bid to encourage those with the symptom to get checked by their GP sooner rather than later.

Latest statistics show that since the launch of DCE, the percentage of patients diagnosed with the earliest stage of lung cancer (stage 1) in Scotland has increased by over a third (35.6 per cent overall), and by even more amongst those living in the most deprived areas (44.1 per cent)1.

The five year survival rate for those diagnosed at an early stage is almost 20 times higher than for those diagnosed at a late stage2.

Dr Paul Baughan, GP lead for cancer services, NHS Forth Valley, said:

“If you’ve had a cough for three weeks or more, your GP wants to see you. It may be nothing serious but it does need to be checked as a persistent cough could be a potential sign of lung cancer.

“The earlier lung cancer is found, the easier it is to treat.  You shouldn’t worry about wasting our time as the sooner we see you, the quicker we can help.”

Shona Robison, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport said:

It’s encouraging to see the recent increase in the percentage of lung cancers being diagnosed at the earliest stage, when treatment and survival is highest.

“There’s lots that can be done to treat lung cancer and as a result of better treatments and increased rates of early detection, more people than ever in Scotland are surviving.

“As Tom’s story illustrates, seeing your GP when you notice a persistent change in your health is worthwhile.  If you’ve had a cough for three weeks or more, it’s probably nothing to worry about but, if it is something that needs treatment, the earlier you go the better. So, don’t get scared, get checked.”

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View Tom’s film here:

Stills attached from Tom’s film with Sir Alex Ferguson.

Case study

Tom Hart, 62 from Larbert was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2011. The father of two had developed a chest infection which had been successfully treated, but he was left with a lingering cough – something his wife and colleagues urged him to get checked out by his GP.

Tom put off making the appointment for a couple of weeks, thinking it could wait until after his daughter’s wedding and subsequent holiday.  Once assessed by his GP, Tom was referred for an x-ray and just days later was told he had a tumour in his right lung.

The non-aggressive tumour was treated with radiotherapy at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre in Glasgow, with Tom receiving three doses of radiotherapy a day over the course of 12 days.

The successful treatment and his subsequent recovery meant Tom was able to return to his job at NHS Forth Valley in September 2011.

Since then, Tom has had two re-occurrences with smaller tumours detected early once more, the most recent of which was in 2014.  He was successfully treated with Stereotactic Ablative Radiotherapy (SABR) – an innovative non-invasive treatment at The Beatson in 2015 and has recovered well.