Lung cancer is the most common cancer in the world claiming more than 33,500 lives every year in the UK and in 2008 accounted for 12.5% of all cancers diagnosed in Northern Ireland.¹
90% of lung cancers are caused by smoking and shockingly the time from diagnosis to death can be as little as six months or less. Lung Cancer Awareness Month takes place worldwide from 1–30 November annually and is now in its seventh year. The Public Health Agency, PHA, is continuing to highlight the damage smoking can do to health with the hard hitting 4,000 chemicals television, radio and outdoor advertising campaign.
Minister for Health, Michael McGimpsey, said: “I want every smoker to know quitting smoking is the single most effective step that you can take to improve your long term health for the sake of your health and to vastly improve the quality of your life. There is no better time to stop smoking than now. Take the first step on 1 November and access one of the many methods of support available.”
Gerry Bleakney, Lead for Tobacco Control, PHA, said: “Smoking dramatically increases the risk of lung cancer, heart disease, strokes and many other health problems. Tobacco related cancers such as lung, oesophageal and stomach cancers, have a low rate of survival, and ultimately one in two smokers will die because of their habit. It is not surprising that the majority of smokers want to stop and our current campaign has been designed to encourage smokers to make a serious quit attempt.”
Figures show that in 2008 there were 1007 cases of lung cancer diagnosed and of these diagnoses 624 were male and 383 female. Early diagnosis of lung cancer and being aware of the signs is crucial to saving lives so smokers could consider these questions: Have you had a cough for over three weeks? Are you suffering chest pain? Have you been coughing blood? Do you have a chest infection even after finishing antibiotics? Do you feel breathless? Are you more tired than usual? These are symptoms which should not be ignored and if you are experiencing these symptoms you really should see your GP for peace of mind and if it is serious then it must be treated quickly.
Gerry added: “We know that stopping smoking is not easy and smokers can make more than a dozen quit attempts before they successfully stop smoking for good. However, it is never too late to stop smoking, the earlier you stop the better. As soon as you stop the risk of serious diseases, such as, lung cancer, heart disease and stroke starts to decrease.
“Many smokers stay quit as a result of sheer willpower but others need support during this time. Recent figures show that during 2009-2010 over 23,000 people used smoking cessation services with 51%, 12,042, staying quit at 4 weeks.² I would encourage smokers who are really interested in giving up the habit for good to visit the dedicated smoking cessation website for more information. There are also more than 600 specialist service providers in Northern Ireland in GP surgeries, pharmacies, acute services and community and voluntary organisations who are there to support smokers in their effort to have a successful quit attempt.”
For more information on how to stop smoking and the location of local stop smoking cessation services visit the PHA’s website: www.want2stop.info
If you would like further information on smoking cessation support, contact the PHA, Tobacco Control Coordinators:
Mark Mc Bride,
Phone 028 8225 3951
Phone 028 3741 4557
For further information contact:
PHA Press Office on 028 90 31 1611.
Notes to the editor
Lung Cancer Awareness Month takes place each year from 1 – 30 November.
² www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/statistics_on_smoking_cessation_services_in_northern.... Last accessed 25 October 2010.