Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Health
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Medical notes 
Background Briefings 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

The BBC's Richard Hannaford
"Quitting is very hard"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 8 March, 2000, 09:20 GMT
Lung cancer shame exposed

A cancer warning has been issued on No Smoking Day
Lung cancer patients in the UK have a much worse survival rate than those in France, according to figures released on No Smoking Day.

The Cancer Research Campaign puts the blame on "unacceptable" delays before the patient reaches a specialist - and worse care once they are there.

They have released an audio tape and CD about lung cancer to prompt patients to push for the best care.

Even heavy smokers can significantly reduce their risk of serious disease by stopping smoking sooner rather than later

Dr Robert Winter
British Lung Foundation
Cancer survival is measured in terms of how many patients are alive five years after being diagnosed.

In France, 14% of lung cancer patients are alive - in the UK this is 7%.

Professor Gordon McVie, director general of the CRC, said that not only were there not enough lung doctors in the UK - but many of the current crop were not well informed about the latest treatments for lung cancer.

He said: "They generally have a negative view about the outcome of treatment with radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

"Chemotherapy for lung cancer is really quite a recent phenomenon. Much of the evidence has emerged since most of the physicians left medical school."

Opportunity to quit

However, outcomes in France, while better, are still poor, and the CRC is urging people to use No Smoking Day as an opportunity to quit.

Smoking causes nine out of ten cases of lung cancer, and there are 40,000 each year in the UK.

Modern chemotherapy offers a chance against lung cancer
Smoking is also a prime contributory factor to heart disease and stroke - and causes frequently fatal and disabling diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

A survey carried out by the BBC suggested that many men are unaware of another smoking-related problem - impotence.

Less than a third of male smokers interviewed on behalf of the "Kick the Habit" series were aware of the potential problem.

The government is spending 100m on anti-smoking campaigns over the next three years.

And 16m is to be invested in "smoking cessation clinics" across England.

Public health minister Yvette Cooper said: "No Smoking Day provides a great focus for smokers to try giving up."

Prime Minister Tony Blair said: "As a non-smoker I will not pretend to understand how difficult it must be for people who have been smoking for 20 or 30 years - most of their adult lives - to stop.

"I certainly do not underestimate the courage and determination it must take to seek help in the first instance and the willpower that is required not to subsequently relapse."

The British Medical Association warned that switching from cigarettes to cigars or hand-rolled tobacco did not cut the health risks, and advised people trying to quit to use nicotine replacement therapy, such as gum and patches.

Dr Robert Winter, from the British Lung Foundation, said: "Even heavy smokers can significantly reduce their risk of serious disease by stopping smoking sooner rather than later."

The Stroke Association is also urging people to quit, as smoking increases the risk of a stroke by 400%.

A spokesman said: "We hope that people will use No Smoking Day as the ideal opportunity to kick the habit."

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

08 Feb 00 |  Health
'Treat nicotine as a hard drug'
09 Nov 99 |  Health
Tobacco cash to go to NHS
10 Dec 99 |  Health
100m to stamp out smoking
17 Jun 99 |  Health
UK stubs out tobacco ads
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to other Health stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories