Kettering hospital has urged people with a persistent cough to get it checked out by a GP.
The call comes as figures suggest the hospital is among the lowest ranked in England in terms of the number of patients who have tests to detect the type of lung cancer they are suffering from.
Hospital bosses say the problem stems from the fact many local people do not get visit a doctor until their lung cancer is at an advanced stage. Patients then choose not to have the tests because their cancer is already advanced and incurable.
The figures have been released by the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Trust and are based on national NHS data.
Consultant in respiratory medicine at Kettering hospital, Dr Raja Reddy, said: “Unfortunately many people in our area don’t go to their doctor with symptoms of lung cancer until their symptoms are quite advanced – this can mean that their care will be palliative rather than undergoing curative surgery.
“Where surgery is an option we have good record. In fact we have had one of the best rates in the country for many years and continue to do so. Surgery is performed at Glenfield Hospital, Leicester, with aftercare and support being provided onsite at KGH.
“We need to stress that most of the lung cancers, nearly 80 per cent, are due to smoking, and naturally the risk of contracting lung cancer can substantially be reduced by stopping smoking.
“But awareness of symptoms is also important. It is very essential to see your doctor early if you have any unexplained cough of more than three weeks duration.
“While most coughs are caused by other things in the rare cases where this is lung cancer it will enable us diagnose the disease before it is advanced and enable us to attempt the curative surgery.”
In 2011, Kettering hospital ranked near the bottom in terms of percentage of patients who received a test to detect the type of lung cancer they were suffering from.
However, it ranked highly in terms of percentage of patients who received an operation. All the figures were based on people at KGH suffering from lung cancer in 2011, a total of 206.