NHS England and Secretary of State for Health: All doctors to check neck for lymph nodes when doing blood pressure check
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Edmund died on the 8th May 2013, after being diagnosed with lung cancer on the 5th April.
He had been seen by a GP on the 27th December 2012 for a painful left knee, which he had had for a number of weeks (we have recently learnt that this can be a sign of lung cancer). A blood pressure test was done. The doctor suggested it might be bursitis and gave him antibiotics. Imagine the extra chance he would have had if a simple lymph node check had been done at that time.
A cough then started around 5th February 2013. Three weeks later Edmund saw his GP, who prescribed him antibiotics. The GP could have done the lymph node test, which again might have given Edmund more time.
It was two weeks after his breathlessness started that he entered A&E on 1st April and the neck lymph nodes were the first thing the doctors looked for. The doctor mentioned the small lumps to Edmund who said; yes I have had that lentil size lump for about 6 months. In fact the doctors were talking about another one which was pea sized.
Edmund was denied chemotherapy because by the time the various results were in he had become too weak for it. How much better would his chances have been with an extra 5 weeks of knowledge, or even better still with an extra 14 weeks?
Many other patients may have received an earlier diagnosis if this had been done as a matter of routine. A biopsy was ordered on Edmund’s admission. Could this earlier diagnosis apply to other cancers that have got into the lymph system, not just lung cancer? What could earlier diagnosis have meant?
2011 figures show that only just 60% of the new patients are able to be treated for lung cancer. The other 40% have palliative care and whatever supports their family and friends can provide.
On the 8th May (the day Edmund died) The Roy Castle Lung Cancer charity started running a campaign to help earlier diagnosis and it runs until the end of August. This is to educate the public to go to their doctor if they have a persistent cough for 3 weeks.
Please insist that doctors who see these patients also do this very quick and easy check to enable earlier diagnosis and help to reduce deaths from this terrifying disease.
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