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‘Coughing’ bus shelters to raise awareness of lung cancer

By Jenny Kirkham

Published 20/05/2015

Dr Miriam McCarthy, Consultant at the Public Health Agency (PHA), at one of the 'coughing' bus shelters in Belfast.
Dr Miriam McCarthy, Consultant at the Public Health Agency (PHA), at one of the 'coughing' bus shelters in Belfast.

Northern Ireland’s first ‘coughing’ bus shelters, created as part of an innovative Public Health Agency (PHA) campaign to raise awareness of the key signs of lung cancer, have started appearing on the streets of Belfast and Londonderry.

The coughing bus shelters are designed to cough intermittently while people are waiting for their bus. It is the latest phase of the PHA's 'Be Cancer Aware' campaign.

Passengers at these shelters will hear a man coughing before a woman’s voice recommends visiting the GP if they, or someone they know, has had a cough for three weeks or more.

Dr Miriam McCarthy, Consultant in Public Health Medicine at the PHA, explained: “None of us really wants to talk about cancer, but it is vital that we are aware of the signs and symptoms and get checked out if we experience any of them, so these bus shelters will help grab people’s attention in an interesting way and get them thinking about lung cancer."

Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers in Northern Ireland, but early detection can improve the outcome for someone with the condition and the PHA hope that the bus shelters will encourage people to see their doctors if they have a persistent cough.

More than 1,000 people were diagnosed with  lung cancer in Northern Ireland in 2013. The illness is more common in people over 50 and in smokers, but around one in eight people with lung cancer has never smoked.

Dr McCarthy continued: “One reason patients are often diagnosed late is that they are unaware of the symptoms of lung cancer. The coughing bus shelter is therefore a great opportunity to explain to people the potential significance of a cough, reaching them when they’re least expecting it.

“This campaign will increase people’s awareness of the early signs of lung cancer – which may be all-too-often overlooked as something minor."

Coughing shelters are located at:

• Belfast, High Street, opposite LIDL (In Shops) on High Street

• Belfast, Falls Road, opposite Royal Victoria Hospital

• Belfast, Shankill Road, opposite Co-Op

• Derry, Foyle Street

• Derry, Strand Road, opposite Sainsbury’s

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