Spot the Difference – Lung Cancer Campaign


Spot the Difference urges us all to look closely at our loved ones, to spot any differences in health that could be an early symptom of lung cancer.


Lung cancer has been one of the cancers hit hardest by the coronavirus crisis, as referral rates plummeted by 75% during the first wave. Many other cancers have now since recovered, but lung cancer referrals remain significantly below expected levels.


Paula Chadwick, the chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, explains:

“We’ve all been apart for many months, but now, with the vaccine rollout progressing well, families and friends are getting back together. We say that provides a real opportunity to Spot the Difference. If you haven’t seen someone in quite a while, you may notice differences in their appearance and well-being. What might go unnoticed in normal circumstances is now much more apparent.”

Early detection is the most crucial factor when it comes to lung cancer; the sooner it is diagnosed the more treatment options are available.


“Prior to the pandemic,’’ continued Paula Chadwick, ‘’UK lung cancer survival rates had risen to their highest-ever levels, and NHS England was rolling out lung health check pilot schemes that could identify the disease at its earliest stages. Together with medical breakthroughs such as immunotherapies and targeted therapy drugs, there were genuine grounds for optimism for those affected by the disease, especially if it is spotted early.”


Now, however, the situation is so dire that David Baldwin, chair of the UK Clinical Expert Group for Lung Cancer, warned that “clinicians are seeing similar late presentations of lung cancer to those that were the norm 20 years ago”.


The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation Spot the Difference campaign aims to help reverse this worrying trend. It highlights a range of potential lung cancer symptoms – including:

  • a cough that won’t go away
  • breathlessness
  • recurrent chest infections
  • coughing up blood
  • loss of appetite
  • unexplained weight loss
  • extreme tiredness
  • hoarseness

and encourages those with one or more of these symptoms to contact their GP practice.


Added Paula Chadwick: ‘’Spot the Difference is all about helping people to get an early diagnosis and the best possible outcome. We’re now seeing glimpses of normal life again. We need to make sure the same is true for everyone affected by lung cancer, bringing it back in line with where we were before the pandemic.’’

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