n Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in Sheffield in men and women with over 400 people diagnosed every year.
AN examination as part of a routine operation saved one Sheffield man’s life when medics picked up on the signs of lung cancer. Sarah Dunn found out more about his ordeal.
KENNETH Banyard went into the Northern General Hospital for a routine procedure to get an umbilical hernia fixed.
But the operation proved to be a lifesaver - when doctors spotted something on his lung as part of the routine X-rays taken during the surgery.
He was immediately called back to the hospital for further tests, which ended in him being diagnosed with a large cancerous tumour on his lung.
“The operation went fine”, said Kenneth, now aged 62.
“But they told me they’d found something on my lung that they wanted to look into and that I’d be getting a letter asking me to come in for some checks.
“I got my letter a few days later and went into the chest clinic to get it checked out. I saw the doctor and they laid it on the line – they said I’d got a big tumour and they’d need to do various tests.
“The bad news was that the tumour was big, but the good news was that it was operable.”
Doctors diagnosed a large cell stage 1B cancer and ordered that he undergo a procedure called a right upper lobectomy - which involves removing the tumour through the back, leaving behind a large scar.
“It looks like a shark’s bit you,” Kenneth said. “I joke that I could sit on a beach and put people off going swimming!”
The operation three years ago was a success, and now the grandfather returns to the chest clinic every 12 months for check-ups - so far all with clear results.
He said: “The doctor usually has a smile on her face when I walk in the room, and I know things are still alright.
“Lung cancer was the last thing I thought of when I went in for the first check. The symptoms aren’t always obvious and sometimes people don’t do anything about it.
“If I hadn’t gone for my hernia I don’t know what would have happened.”
Kenneth, from High Green, said his ordeal had changed his outlook on life - in particular encouraging him to take the plunge and quit smoking, a habit he first started 40 years before.
And he said if he could manage it, so could anybody else.
“I was a smoker before, but while I was in hospital one of the nurses asked me if I was going to quit – I said yes, they asked me if that was a promise – and I promised there and then that I’d not smoke again when I got back home, and I’ve stuck to it,” the warehouseman said.
“I’ve remembered that promise. I owe the hospital staff who took care of me and I remember that pledge I made to them.
“I was stupid enough to start smoking 40 years ago, when we didn’t realise the effects of smoking as much as people today. I asked the doctors if smoking had caused it, and whilst they can’t say for certain, it certainly won’t have done it any good. Though it’s best to never starting smoking, I know that you’re never too old to quit – and it’s never too late. For me I just needed to commit to doing it and break the habit, and I’ve never looked back.
“Having cancer has totally changed my outlook on life. I’m 62 now and a big operation like that does take it out of you. I’ve got enough to manage, so I now work half of what I did before – something like that makes you value life itself, more than money.”
Kenneth’s consultant Dr Jennifer Hill, a lung cancer specialist at the Northern General, urged people to be on the look out for the potential symptoms of lung cancer.
She said: “The earlier that lung cancer is diagnosed, the more likely that it can be treated effectively so it is very important that people are on the look out for symptoms, particularly a persistent cough.
“We find that many people have had symptoms for over a year before seeking help.
“Long term smokers may have had a cough for years, so it can be hard for them to realise that their cough is getting worse. They should look out for a cough that is different to their usual cough, particularly one that is keeping them awake at night.”
And Joanne Coy, public health specialist at NHS Sheffield, added: “Too many people are dying because their lung cancer was not detected until it was too late.
“Mr Banyard’s experience shows that early treatment saves lives, so please watch out for symptoms and don’t delay seeking help from your GP.
“Remember also that the biggest cause of lung cancer is smoking and the best way to prevent cancer and lots of other types of ill-health is to be a non-smoker. If you smoke, lots of help is available to help quit.”
Kenneth added his thanks to Dr Hill and everyone else who had supported him on his cancer journey - from the doctors and surgeons who diagnosed and treated him to the Weston Park Cancer Support Unit and the Macmillan Cancer Support charity.
He said: “I owe all these people a really big thank you – between them they have given me my life back.”
LUNG CANCER FACTFILE
Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in Sheffield in men and women with over 400 people diagnosed every year.
The biggest risk factor for lung cancer is smoking: nine out of 10 people who get lung cancer are current or former smokers.
Non-smokers can get lung cancer, although the numbers are much smaller.
More men than women get lung cancer due to their higher levels of smoking.
However, the total number of men who get lung cancer each year is falling, whilst cases of lung cancer among women continue to increase. This is because of different patterns of smoking among men and women: the proportion of men who smoked began to decline in the 1950s whilst the proportion of women who smoked continued to increase until the 1970s.
The key symptom of lung cancer is a persistent cough.
If you have any of these symptoms, they should be checked out by your doctor as soon as possible:
Coughing up blood-stained phlegm
Shortness of breath
A persistent chest or shoulder pain
Loss of appetite and weight
At present there is no effective screening test for lung cancer, so if you do notice these symptoms see your doctor. Your GP may arrange for you to have a chest X-ray.
For help to quit smoking contact the Sheffield Stop Smoking Service on 0800 068 4490, log onto www.sheffieldstopsmoking.org.uk or visit the Sheffield Quit-Stop drop-in shop at 39 Charles Street, city centre.