February 20, 2012

Why Quit Now?

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Reviewed by: 
Joseph V. Madia, MD By:

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Cancer diagnosis does not always lead to quitting smoking

(dailyRx News) Not surprisingly, most people who enjoy tobacco find that their priorities have shifted on the day they've been diagnosed with cancer. Even more quit smoking at some point in the months afterwards. Most people; but not everyone.

A team from Harvard Medical School's Massachusetts General Hospital studied patients diagnosed with either lung or colon cancer, to learn how smoking impacted treatment and future cancer risk.

"Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to kick the habit."

Researchers examined the records of 5,338 patients. Early findings show some interesting data:

  • 90 percent of patients with lung cancer reported a history of smoking, with 38 percent still smoking at the time of diagnosis. Five months later, only fourteen percent of lung cancer patients hadn't quit.
  • 55 percent of patients with colorectal cancer reported a history of smoking, with nearly fourteen percent still smoking at the time of diagnosis. Only nine percent of colorectal cancer patients still smoked five months after diagnosis.
  • Different factors associated with continuing to smoke after diagnosis included being thin, male, heavy smoker, limited education, or the patient's cancer not requiring surgery.

Carolyn Dressler, MD, of the Arkansas Department of Health authored an editorial published with the study, saying, "We know enough now to implement effective cessation programs to identify and help cancer patients quit at the time of diagnosis and support them to prevent relapse. By doing so, we maximize patients' response to therapy, their quality of life, and their longevity."

The study was published February 23, 2012 online in CANCER.

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Reviewed by: 
Joseph V. Madia, MD
Review Date: 
February 20, 2012

Last Updated:
February 20, 2012