Cancer charities in the UK launched a campaign to urge family doctors to recognize lung cancer symptoms in non-smokers.

Macmillan Cancer Support and Cancer Research UK are among the groups to back a new campaign that launches this week intended to prompt family doctors to consider lung cancer as a likely diagnosis even in people who have never smoked.

The disease is closely linked to smoking, but around 6,000 non-smokers a year die of it, more than the death toll of 5,300 from cervical cancer, 4,500 from leukaemia and 4,200 from ovarian cancer. It is the UK’s eighth biggest cancer killer and the seventh commonest cause of cancer death worldwide.

Sufferers often visit their GP several times before being referred to hospital and diagnosed, by which time most are too late to undergo treatment that may cure them. Doctors are puzzled by why those who do not use cigarettes contract the “smokers’ disease”. They believe genetic factors and growing up in a household where one or both parents smoke are among the reasons.

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