Together we will beat cancer


Worried I have lung cancer, afraid I wont be taken seriously

9 Oct 2019 12:46

I want to start by saying I'm an American living in the UK for the last 4 years. I was raised to not go to the doctor unless you're unable to function. That's why I've put off going to the doctor for so long. I also fear the doctors scolding me for not coming sooner.


About 2 years ago I started coughing a lot. And sometimes I'd cough up clear phlem with tiny brownish/greyish specks in it. Sometimes it'd be worse than others. Sometimes seeming like it went away completely. I smoke cigarettes socially. Maybe 2 or 3 a week. Probably less. But I have smoked marijuana daily for many years. I also used to break into abandonned buildings that had warning signs for asbestos to take photos.

About a year and a half ago the cough was getting pretty bad. Coughing up the phlem with specks in it multiple times a day. I was at work and I guess I had a bit of a panic attack as my heart was racing, my breath was shallow and I felt light headed. Ended up leaving work and taking myself to the a&e they did a chest x-ray and said they didn't see anything wrong. I didn't mention coughing stuff up. They sent me home and felt like it must not be a big deal.

Now I've developed a really bad cough. Like nothing I've ever had. I obviously have an infection cause in the morning and evening I cough up green phlem (still with the specks in it). But the cough is so extreme I can't stop it. Sometimes feeling like I'm choking or coughing so hard I trigger my gag reflex and almost throw up. It's a dry cough and a chesty cough. And though I've been coughing non stop for 2 weeks I don't have a sore throat at all.

Anyway, I know this is a lot of information and I'm sorry. I am seeing my GP tomorrow afternoon and my biggest concern is that they wont take me seriously. That they'll see the chest infection, give me antibiotics and leave it at that. What should I say to the GP? What is most important to bring up? Also I'm only 27 so I fear that's another reason why I'll just be written off.

Thanks very much for your time. And I appreciate any thoughts, advice, personal experience.

Worried I have lung cancer, afraid I wont be taken seriously

9 Oct 2019 16:18 in response to greyzski

Dear Greyski,

Thank you for getting in contact with us. 

As you are feeling unwell, the important thing is that you see a GP and I am glad to know that you will be doing that tomorrow.

They will assess you and hear your history and make a judgement call on how to proceed.

If you were told a year and a half ago your chest xray looked clear, we have to take that as the truth.

It may be that you do need antibiotics, particularly as you are bringing up green phlegm and the cough is so much worse. Trauma from the coughing can be a cause of red/brownish specks in phlegm. 

It is not unusual at all to have a chest infection, but not a sore throat.

From statistics we know that at the age 27,  the likelihood of having lung cancer is low. Lung cancers are more common in older people. 

Your GP will take you seriously, although I don't think that lung cancer will be the first thing that comes to mind in someone of your age. But as this is worrying you so much it might help to be direct about your concerns and ask the GP specifically if this could be the matter.

If they do prescribe antibiotics and they don't help, then you would need to go back to your GP and and see what the plan is next.

You may find it helpful to talk things through with one of the nurses on our helpline. 

The number to call is Freephone 0808 800 4040 and the lines are open from 9am till 5pm Monday to Friday.

Take care,


Worried I have lung cancer, afraid I wont be taken seriously

10 Oct 2019 13:40 in response to CRUK Nurse Sarah

Thank you so much for your responce, Sarah. Gave me some peice of mind yesterday while at work