In a study (presented at the May 2010 meeting of the American Radium Society) investigators report the results of their analysis of 796 breast cancer survivors who smoked after their treatment for breast cancer. All of these patients received lumpectomy (with or without radiation therapy). The authors found that the rate of developing a new breast cancer (in either the same or opposite breast) and any new cancer was significantly higher in this group of smokers compared to a non-smoking group of breast cancer survivors.
Integrative oncology counseling provides numerous recommendations for cancer survivors that may help to reduce the risk of developing a new cancer or cancer recurrence.
Smoking is a difficult habit for many to kick, but one that is essential for cancer survivors to work hard to tackle. Another recent study reported that smokers who developed lung cancer, and quit smoking AFTER their diagnosis, had double the survival rate compared to those who continued to smoke. Furthemore, smoking cessation significantly decreased the risk of developing other cancers in this group. In yet another study, patients undergoing radiation therapy for cancers of head & neck who smoked had a significantly worse outcome compared to those who did not smoke (they also had significantly worse side effects from the treatment.)
I counsel all of my patients who smoke to join a smoking cessation program. Without counseling (individually or in group sessions), most attempts at smoking cessation fail. Adding a nicotine substitute (i.e. gums, patches, electronic cigarettes) and medications to reduce the cravings for nicotine can help to make cessation programs even more effective.