Smoking Cessation After Lung Cancer Diagnosis Improves Survival

Posted on February 11th, 2010 by

Quitting smoking after a diagnosis of early-stage lung cancer may reduce the risk of cancer recurrence and death. These results were published in the British Medical Journal.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, with an estimated 159,000 deaths each year.

Smoking cessation is known to reduce a smoker’s risk of developing lung cancer, but less is known about the effect of smoking cessation after a lung cancer diagnosis.

To evaluate the effect of quitting smoking after a lung cancer diagnosis, researchers evaluated information from several previously published studies. Most of the studies focused on patients with early-stage lung cancer.

  • Among patients with non–small cell lung cancer, those who continued to smoke after diagnosis were almost three times more likely to die and almost twice as likely to experience a cancer recurrence as those who stopped smoking.
  • Estimated five-year survival in 65-year-old patients with early-stage non–small cell lung cancer was 33% among those who continued to smoke and 70% among those who quit smoking.
  • Among patients with limited small cell lung cancer, those who continued to smoke after diagnosis were roughly twice as likely to die and more than four times as likely to develop a second primary tumor as those who stopped smoking.
  • Estimated five-year survival in 65-year old patients with limited small cell lung cancer was 29% among those who continued to smoke and 63% among those who quit smoking.

Although earlier smoking cessation would likely provide greater benefits, the results of this review suggest that smoking cessation after a diagnosis of early lung cancer may improve outcomes.

Reference: Parsons A, Begh R, Aveyard P. Influence of smoking cessation after diagnosis of early stage lung cancer on prognosis: systematic review of observational studies with meta-analysis. British Medical Journal [early online publication]. January 21, 2010.

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