Quitting Smoking After a Lung Cancer Diagnosis: Benefits and More

It is well known that smoking is one of the main causes of lung cancer. For this reason, health professionals advise anyone who smokes to quit to reduce their risk of cancer. However, even after a diagnosis of lung cancer, it is never too late to quit smoking.

Quitting smoking can have an overall positive effect on a person’s life expectancy, quality of life, and overall health after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

Although scientists have spent decades showing that smoking increases the risk of developing lung cancer, little research has investigated what happens to those who continue to smoke after a lung cancer diagnosis.

In recent years, more and more researchers have begun to study the effects of smoking on people with lung cancer. Study results indicate overall improvements in quality of life, life expectancy and other health factors when a person quits smoking.

This article explores what researchers have found about the benefits of quitting smoking after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

According to a 2020 report from the Department of Health and Human Sciences, there is not enough evidence to show a relationship between general mortality rates and smoking cessation among smokers when diagnosed with cancer.

However, a study 2021 found that people who quit smoking after a lung cancer diagnosis showed an improvement in their overall life expectancy compared to those who did not. Specifically, the study showed:

  • an average survival of 6.6 years in people who quit compared to 4.8 years in those who did not quit
  • a 5-year overall survival of 60.6% in those who quit versus 48.6% in those who did not quit
  • a lower risk of cancer and all-cause mortality in those who quit smoking

A person with lung cancer can see improvement in their quality of life if they quit smoking.

Some studies look at specific measures of quality of life, such as pain level. A older study from 2009 found that people who continued to smoke after being diagnosed had a higher level of moderate or severe persistent pain compared to people who had never smoked and those who had quit.

In one more recent study as of 2020, researchers noted that quitting smoking improved both survival and quality of life.

Some evidence suggests that quitting smoking can help slow the growth of cancer cells. Nicotine in cigarettes can feed the development and growth of blood vessels that cancer uses to grow.

A little study 2021 have shown that quitting smoking can help prevent the progression of lung cancer. However, no other study has yet replicated these results. Further research is needed to fully assess how smoking cessation may affect lung cancer growth.

In one study 2016, researchers found that people who continued to smoke after being diagnosed with lung cancer had a significantly increased risk of tumor relapse or the cancer spreading to other areas. The study authors recommend that health professionals encourage smokers to quit.

A comorbidity refers to any disease, including other cancers, that can occur alongside lung cancer. According to GO2 Lung Cancer Foundationcontinuing to smoke can affect health by:

  • increase the risk of developing other cancers, including cancers of the throat, mouth, bladder, stomach, cervix, pancreas, and uterus
  • increase the risk of developing other diseases, such as high blood pressure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, and plaque buildup in the arteries
  • make a person six times more likely to have a heart attack

Quitting smoking can reduce the likelihood of many of these health risks.

Continuing to smoke after a lung cancer diagnosis can decrease the effectiveness of a person’s treatment. Smoking can affect the effectiveness of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation therapy. It can also cause surgical incisions to heal more slowly.

In one older studythe researchers noted that quitting smoking can lead to several positive outcomes for the person, including improving the effectiveness of their lung cancer treatment.

Quitting smoking can improve quality of life, prolong survival, improve treatment effectiveness and reduce the risk of other diseases. Despite these advantages, studies show that the majority of smokers continue to smoke after a diagnosis of lung cancer.

People interested in quitting smoking should speak to a healthcare professional, who can likely recommend local support groups and provide other advice to help a person quit smoking.

Quitting smoking can be a difficult process for many people. Sometimes a person may also find that they start smoking again after quitting.

Smokefree.gov suggests that people develop a quit plan to help ensure success. His sample plan has six steps to follow, namely:

  • set a quit date
  • calculation of overall savings
  • reflect on and record reasons for quitting, including general health
  • know and record the triggers
  • develop strategies to deal with food cravings
  • determine which strategies and tools can help to successfully quit smoking

A person can also take advantage of the quitting resources that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to bring. Additionally, they may benefit from checking the American Lung Associationtips for quitting smoking.

Recent and long-standing research has shown that quitting smoking following a diagnosis of lung cancer can benefit a person in several ways.

These include improving quality of life, increasing life expectancy, improving treatment outcomes, reducing the risk of other diseases, and slowing the growth and spread of cancer.

A person can speak with a medical professional for advice on how to quit smoking.