Tobacco is a major contributor to lung cancer, and over 80% of patients with non-small cell lung cancer have a history of smoking. About half of these people are current smokers at the time of diagnosis. There is limited evidence that quitting smoking can improve survival, and many people believe it is too late to quit once diagnosed with lung cancer. It is estimated that around half of smoking patients continue to smoke after a diagnosis of lung cancer, the results of this new study should help convince them to stop in order to improve their survival.
Even after a cancer diagnosis, there is a significant benefit to quitting smoking
The IARC team conducted this study at 2 sites in Moscow among 517 adult current smokers when diagnosed with lung cancer, in order to assess whether and to what extent quitting smoking after the diagnosis affects risk of disease progression and mortality. Participants were asked about their medical and lifestyle history at the start of the study, researchers considered tumor characteristics and smoking history over the course of life, and then followed participants for 7 years, with an annual assessment of their smoking behavior and cancer progression.
- Of 517 patients who smoked at the time of diagnosis, 44.5% quit and very few relapsed;
- patients who quit smoking are more likely to live longer overall (6.6 years vs. 4.8 years),
- live longer without lung cancer (5.7 versus 3.9 years);
- to benefit from a longer survival (7.9 vs 6 years).
Critical data for patients and their physicians, which show that even after a diagnosis of lung cancer, there is still a significant benefit to quitting smoking.
Doctors therefore need to educate their lung cancer patients that quitting smoking can prolong life and in many cases, without cancer coming back..