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Smoking after a Diagnosis of Lung Cancer

Are you or someone you love interested in quitting? Please check out our Tobacco Cessation page for more information.

After being diagnosed with lung cancer, some people are able to quit more easily than they ever imagined. Others struggle to quit -- after all, smoking is an addiction and being diagnosed with lung cancer can be very stressful.

It’s never too late to quit smoking, even if you have been diagnosed with lung cancer. A 2010 study published in the British Medical Journal reported that people diagnosed with early stage lung cancer can double their chances of survival over five years if they stop smoking compared with those who continue to smoke. 

Here are some great reasons to quit, to decrease your risk for lung cancer as well as other diseases.

Smoking and cancer

  • Smoking after diagnosis increases the chance that lung cancer will come back again or that a second cancer will develop.
  • Nicotine is thought to feed the growth of new blood vessels that the tumor uses to grow.
  • Continuing to smoke after diagnosis increases your chance of dying by one-third compared to former or never smokers.
  • Patients who continue to smoke have worse quality of life (overall enjoyment of life) than those who do not.
  • Smoking makes radiation therapy, surgery, and chemotherapy less effective, and can make treatment-related side effects worse.
  • Smoking decreases the amount of oxygen that tissues receive, which means that wounds from surgery cannot heal as quickly, and increases the risk of complications after surgery.

Smoking and other diseases

  • Smokers are six times more likely to have a heart attack than non-smokers.
  • Smoking increases your risk of developing other cancers including mouth, throat, bladder, cervical, stomach, uterine and pancreatic cancers.
  • Smoking increases your risk of developing other  diseases including high blood pressure, plaque build-up in the arteries, emphysema and COPD.

The good news:

  • Quitting now may help you heal from surgery better and may allow your chemotherapy and radiation to be more effective.
  • Quitting significantly decreases your risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Using nicotine replacement products approximately double the chance of quitting smoking without increasing the risk of cancer.