Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers among both men and women in Northern Ireland, with round 900 new cases diagnosed each year, so the Public Health Agency (PHA) is calling on people to use Lung Cancer Awareness Month in November as the perfect opportunity to stop smoking.
Mark McBride, Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement Manager, PHA, said: “Smoking cigarettes is the single biggest risk factor for lung cancer and is responsible for around 90 per cent of all cases. If you smoke just one cigarette a day, you are three times more likely to get lung cancer than a non-smoker. If you smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day, you are 20 times more likely to get lung cancer than a non-smoker.
“Using other types of tobacco products such as cigars, pipe tobacco and chewing tobacco can also increase your risk of developing lung cancer.”
The PHA is encouraging all smokers who are thinking about quitting to use Lung Cancer Awareness Month as the perfect opportunity to stop smoking and reduce their chances of developing lung cancer.
However long you have been smoking, it is always worth quitting. Every year that you do not smoke, your risk of getting serious illnesses such as lung cancer will start to decrease. After 10 years of not smoking, your chances of developing lung cancer falls to half that of a smoker.
It is also vital that anyone who thinks that they may have symptoms of lung cancer sees their GP immediately, as early diagnosis of lung cancer and being aware of the signs are crucial to saving lives. Symptoms may include:
- a persistent cough
- a sudden change in a cough that you have had for a long time
- unexplained weight loss
- chest pain – this is usually intermittent (stop-start) and is often made worse when breathing or coughing
- coughing up blood-stained phlegm.
Mark explained: “Smokers should be aware of the symptoms of lung cancer and if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you need to see your GP urgently.
“It is never too late to stop smoking, but the earlier you stop, the better. There are over 600 free stop smoking services across Northern Ireland in pharmacies, GP surgeries, hospitals, communities and workplaces that can help your quit attempt.
“For information on stop smoking services phone the Smokers’ Helpline on 0808 812 8008 or go to www.want2stop.info and order your free quit kit.”
Contact PHA Communications on (028) 9055 3663
Notes to the editor
1. For further information on stop smoking services available in localities across Northern Ireland, contact the Smokers’ Helpline on 0808 812 8008 or go to www.want2stop.info
2. The ‘Quit Kit’ is available from the website: www.want2stop.info