A NEGATIVE Covid test and an ongoing cough could be a sign of lung cancer, a top doctor has warned.

The NHS is urging the public to come forward if they are experiencing lung cancer symptoms such as a persistent cough.

The Trust has seen an almost 30 per cent drop in referrals compared to the same time last year.

An ongoing cough is a symptom of coronavirus, but as it is also a sign of lug cancer the NHS is urging people to me be aware of the warning signs.

Lung cancer is the third most common cancer in England with around 5752 people in South East England being diagnosed each year. Finding lung cancer early, like other cancers, makes it more treatable.

However, research commissioned by the NHS found half of people in South East England do not know that a persistent cough for more than three weeks can be a lung cancer symptom.

Three fifths of people in South East England would not make an appointment with their GP if they had a cough lasting three weeks or more and had tested negative for coronavirus.

The findings have been released as NHS England and Public Health England launch a major new drive encouraging people to get check by a GP if they have lung cancer symptoms.

Michael Baker, Deputy Director of Healthcare at Public Health England South East, said: “It’s too easy to ignore important signs that your body is trying to tell you but it’s so important with cancer that it is treated as early as possible. If you are in any doubt at all, please consult your GP. Don’t wait until it’s too late.”

Those whose cancer is caught at the earliest point, referred to as stage one, have a 57.7 per cent chance of living for another five years, compared to 3.1 per cent for those diagnosed at stage four.

The NHS Long Term Plan aims to increase the number of cancer patients diagnosed early, at stage one or two, from half to three quarters.

The health service has seen more people come forward for cancer checks since the first peak of the pandemic but lung cancer referrals are at 73 per cent of the same point last year.

The research found the main reasons people gave for not contacting their GP practice were being worried about burdening the NHS wanting to wait and see if the cough would go away by itself.

More than three quarters said they would encourage their loved ones to make an appointment with their GP if they kept coughing but knew they did not have Covid-19.

The Help Us Help You campaign includes a series of TV adverts encouraging anyone with an ongoing cough to not delay contacting their GP.