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Smokers With Lung Cancer: Not Too Late to Quit
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Study Shows Patients Who Quit After Cancer Diagnosis Live Longer Than Those Who Keep Smoking
Kelli Miller Stacy
Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD
Jan. 21, 2010 -- Smokers with lung cancer who have asked "Why quit now, I'm already sick?" may find new motivation in this answer: Doing so could double their odds of survival over five years.
A report published online today in BMJ suggests that people who give up smoking after being diagnosed with early-stage lung cancer live longer than patients who continue the habit.
The findings underscore the importance of the notion that it is never too late to quit smoking.
Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death, according to the American Lung Association. And smoking causes most cases of lung cancer.
Medical evidence has repeatedly shown that as soon as a person quits smoking the body begins to repair the damage done by tobacco-smoke-related chemicals, and it's been theorized that continued smoking can influence the behavior of lung tumors. But until now it was not clear if ending the smoking habit after being diagnosed with lung cancer had any impact on a patient's survival.
Researchers at the University of Birmingham in England reviewed the results of 10 studies that evaluated how smoking cessation after lung cancer diagnosis affected a patient's prognosis. The review included patients with both non-small-cell and small-cell forms of lung cancer.
Among their findings:
The researchers say their findings suggest that smoking-cessation programs
may benefit patients with early-stage lung cancer, but they add that more
research is needed.
SOURCES: News release, BMJ.
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