Many cancer survivors struggle to quit smoking, study says

Aug. 20, 2014—Many cancer survivors continue to smoke. Some do so every day, and they keep smoking for years.

That’s the finding of a study published online in a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. Here, researchers examined survey data collected from nearly 3,000 people who had survived one of 10 types of cancer. Study participants were selected at random from national cancer registries.

Among other things, researchers found that about nine years after cancer diagnosis:

  • More than 9 percent of all cancer survivors were current smokers.
  • Most current smokers—more than 80 percent—smoked daily, averaging over 14 cigarettes a day.
  • Those most likely to smoke were those who had survived bladder, lung or ovarian cancer.

Read the study abstract here.

The quest to quit

Overall, the study found that cancer survivors who currently smoke are younger and less educated, earn less money, and drink more alcohol. About a third said they intended to quit smoking—and about 40 percent of those wanted to do so within the next month. Those less inclined to quit were often heavier smokers, older or married.

If you see yourself reflected in these statistics, you might be motivated to pull together your own quit-smoking program. You might even be tempted to quit smoking if you don’t fit these descriptions and you have a cancer background.

Some smokers diagnosed with cancer simply think it’s too late to quit or that there’s no good reason to do so, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

If that’s true for you, remember that quitting tobacco is always beneficial, and it’s always possible, ASCO said. Benefits include:

  • Longer life
  • More energy
  • Fewer side effects from cancer treatment while treatment continues
  • Less chance of cancer recurrence
  • Lower risk of other serious diseases

Smoking is also expensive. To calculate just how much you might be spending on a smoking habit, try this calculator.

The take-home message
Quitting smoking should be part of your cancer-recovery program. With help, you can kick the habit for good.

The most successful stop-smoking plans include steps such as setting a quit date and developing strategies to deal with things that spark the urge to smoke, ASCO said. Nicotine replacement therapy, other medications and counseling can help.

To get started, talk with your doctor. He or she can help you find a plan that’s best for you, prescribe any necessary medications and point you toward support services that can help you quit smoking for good.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *