Quantification of betel quid chewing and cigarette smoking in oral cancer patients

Kuo Yang Tsai, Che Chun Su, Yo Y. Lin, Jian A. Chung, Iebin Lian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Betel quid chewing and cigarette smoking are two of the risk factors for some dental diseases as well as oral cavity cancer in Taiwan. The aim of the study was to quantify these factors in oral cavity cancer patients and compare the prevalence of these factors in patients and the general population. Methods: A questionnaire was designed to evaluate betel quid chewing, cigarette smoking and alcohol drinking in 254 patients, who had squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity, and had received surgical excision at the Changhua Christian Hospital in Taiwan between 2005 and 2008. The results were compared with those of population of Taiwan, based on a nation-wide survey with sample of 26 744 people. Results: We found that more than 80% of the male patients were both betel quid chewers and smokers. Few women in the survey practiced betel quid chewing, cigarette smoking or alcohol drinking. Chewers and smokers usually started the habits in their 20s. On average, a chewer patient consumed 12 508 betel quid pieces per year, for 23.3 years before the diagnosis of oral cavity cancer, making the total amount of betel quid consumed nearly 310 000 pieces; and a smoker patient consumed 469 packs per year, for 28.5 years before diagnosis, making the total number of about 14 000 packs. Patients with both habits had the age at diagnosis 4 years earlier than the smoker-only patients, 5 years earlier than the chewer-only patients, and 6 years earlier than those with neither. Conclusions: On average, it took two decades of betel quid chewing and cigarette smoking before oral cavity cancer diagnosis, making the life-time consumption of these substances an astonishing amount. Betel quid chewing and cigarette smoking patients are more likely to be diagnosed with oral cavity cancer at a younger age than those who have just one habit or none. Patients that smoke more are not only more likely to be diagnosed at a younger age, but also at an advanced stage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-561
Number of pages7
JournalCommunity Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Dec 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Dentistry(all)

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