07:13am Monday 21 October 2019

Smoking increases your risk of developing mouth cancer, PHA warns

Smoking increases your risk of developing mouth cancer, PHA warns

In Northern Ireland approximately 185* people are diagnosed with mouth cancer every year, with more than one third dying from the disease. Although mouth cancer awareness month (1–30 November) is ending soon the Public Health Agency (PHA) is urging everyone to continue to be vigilant of the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer and is encouraging all smokers thinking about stopping smoking to make the decision to stop today.

Mouth cancer can occur in or on any part of the mouth, tongue, lips, neck and throat. In its very early stages, mouth cancer can be easy to ignore. Most people with mouth cancer have no early symptoms at all, but others may have:

  •          an ulcer in the mouth or on the lip that won’t heal;
  •          constant pain or soreness;
  •          red or white patches in the mouth;
  •          a lump on the lip, tongue or in the neck;
  •          bad breath;
  •          unexplained bleeding in the mouth;
  •          numbness in the mouth;
  •          loose teeth.

The earlier the disease is caught, the better. Survival rates rise to 90%if the cancer is treated before it has spread.

Gerry Bleakney, Head of Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement, PHA, said: “Certain lifestyle choices can increase an individual’s risk of developing mouth cancer. Tobacco is considered to be the main cause of mouth cancer, with three in four cases being linked to smoking. Excess alcohol consumption is also a known risk factor, with those who both smoke and drink excessively being up to 30 times more likely to develop the disease.”

Gerry continued:  “Mouth cancer and the treatment required can be traumatic for the patient as this may affect functions such as speech, chewing and swallowing. The positive news is that stopping smoking is associated with a rapid reduction in the risk of oral cancers. Regular trips to the dentist are also a must because half of all mouth cancer cases are detected by dentists.

“I would encourage everyone who is thinking about quitting to log on to our Want 2 Stop website www.want2stop.info and order a ‘Quit Kit’ free of charge. Alternatively contact the Smokers’ Helpline on 0808 812 8008 to find out where your nearest stop smoking service is.” 

Further information

Contact the PHA Press Office on 028 90553663

Notes to the editor

* www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/CancerData/OnlineStatistics/LipOralCavityPharynx/

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

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