Common winter symptom could actually be a sign of deadly cancer, GP warns

Lung cancer: Dr Amir describes the symptoms in February

During the winter months we are more vulnerable to passing illnesses such as colds and flu.

Therefore, many symptoms of these do not typically set alarm bells ringing.

But in some cases what you are experiencing could be a sign of something far more serious.

A GP spoke exclusively with about a symptom of a deadly disease that could be mistaken for that of a common cold, the flu or even Covid.

Doctor Sarah Jarvis said: “As winter approaches, it’s more important than ever to look after your health and take steps to seek help if there’s any chance of serious illness.

READ MORE When your chest infection could be a sign of lung cancer – red flags

“If you begin to feel any changes in your body, or something just doesn’t feel right, it is so important that you get these symptoms checked. It’ll probably be nothing serious, but if it is cancer, the earlier it’s found, the better.

“There is one common symptom which is easily mistaken for the effects of cold weather and generally dismissed.”

This symptom is a cough that lasts for three weeks or longer.

“A cough which lasts for three weeks or more is a common symptom in winter that can be easily brushed aside,” she continued.

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“It may be the lingering effect of a cold, or a response to chilly weather. But since it’s also a key symptom of lung cancer, it’s vital not to ignore it.

“It can be tempting to brush off a persistent cough as a common cold or flu, especially if you’re able to go to work and continue with your everyday activities.

“As a GP myself, I really want to encourage anyone who might be experiencing this symptom to contact their GP practice as soon as possible.”

Lung cancer is the most deadly type of cancer in the UK, causing almost 35,000 deaths every year.

Dr Jarvis warned of other signs to look for.

She said: “Other symptoms of lung cancer include chest infections that keep coming back; coughing up blood; a long-standing cough that gets worse; loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss; an ache or pain when breathing or coughing; persistent breathlessness and persistent tiredness or lack of energy.

“It’s much more common to feel tired in the winter months, especially when it gets dark and cold, but make sure you are listening to your body and getting checked out if you notice any of these changes.”

She added: “Look out for your friends and family in the winter – if somebody close to you has been coughing for three weeks or more, encourage them to reach out to their GP, even just for peace of mind.”

The NHS warns that lung cancer does not often cause symptoms in the early stages.

But the health body says “many” people with the condition “eventually develop” symptoms including:

  • A persistent cough
  • Coughing up blood
  • Persistent breathlessness
  • Unexplained tiredness and weight loss
  • An ache or pain when breathing or coughing.

The biggest cause of lung cancer is smoking, however, it can develop in non-smokers.

It can also be caused by exposure to pollution and substances such as asbestos, radon and coal fumes.

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