LUNG cancer death rates have continued to rise across the Loddon Elmore region to Bendigo west and north, prompting a peak advocacy body to launch a nationwide campaign.
Lung Foundation Australia has warned people who have a persistent cough, not to brush it off because it could be one of the warning signs of lung cancer.
The advocacy group and charity launched the 'What if your cough isn't just a cough?' campaign on Wednesday urging anyone with a cough that lasts for at least three weeks to visit their GP for a check-up.
Chief executive Mark Brooke said the campaign message was especially important for those who live in Loddon Elmore, given that the number of deaths caused by lung cancer was 8 per cent higher than the national average.
Mr Brooke said local residents were 22 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer.
"Importantly, our research shows us that over 60 per cent of Australians did not know that a persistent cough should be checked if it has lasted 3 weeks or more," he said.
"This is a key knowledge gap which we need to fill. Diagnosing lung cancer in its early stage is critical to improving survival rates, hence our message via 'What if your cough isn't just a cough?', is to act without delay."
Lung cancer has the lowest five-year survival rate of the five most commonly diagnosed cancers, at just 20 per cent.
More than half of Australians are diagnosed with lung cancer at stage IV, where life expectancy is just 19 per cent after 12 months. If diagnosed early, five-year survival increases to up to 91 per cent%.
Mr Brooke said the early warning signs were easy to miss when it came to lung cancer or lung disease which could affect anyone, irrespective of lifestyle choices.
"For some, however, a lingering cough could be a sign of something more serious, such as a lung disease or lung cancer".
You can learn more about 'What if your cough isn't just a cough?' and complete a lung health check by visiting here.
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