A FORTH VALLEY lung cancer survivor recently spoke of the importance of getting symptoms checked early.

Bill Culbard, 79 from Dunblane, credits his survival to an early diagnosis 20 years ago, which has allowed him to continue to work, travel and watch his family grow.

He has joined other lung cancer survivors from across Scotland as the Scottish Government launched its Settling In campaign, urging people to contact their GP without delay if they have unusual breathlessness or a new or different persistent cough.

Bill was diagnosed in 2000 after a family friend noticed his persistent cough, and along with his wife Gwen, encouraged him to make an appointment with his GP.

The Dunblane man was referred for an X-ray which showed a shadow across his lung.

Following other tests, he received chemotherapy and radiotherapy before returning to work a year after he was diagnosed.

Bill said: “Being diagnosed with cancer will always be a big deal and a huge worry, but if it's caught early enough it really does make a difference to your options and chance of survival.

“The best thing I ever did was go to the doctor, that visit gave me an extra 22 years and counting.

“Whether it's a persistent cough, breathlessness, any of these things that aren’t normal for you should trigger a wee thought in your head to go and get checked out.

“There’s every chance that it could save your life."

Lung cancer is the most common form of the disease in Scotland with around 5,300 people diagnosed each year.

Figures show that there have been significant improvements in the proportion of people surviving in recent years with more curative treatments available when the disease is found at an earlier stage.

Dr Philip Hodkinson, consultant respiratory physician and joint national clinical lead for Detect Cancer Early, said: “More treatments with the potential to cure lung cancer are available than ever before, but finding it in its earliest stages is key to maximising treatment options.

“That’s why it’s so important that anyone experiencing symptoms visits their GP practice so that they can be assessed as soon as possible and referred, if appropriate, to the correct specialist.”

Visit getcheckedearly.org for more information on the signs and symptoms of lung cancer.