Although the following paper was published already 7 months ago (January 2010, in the British Medical Journal), and is no longer new news, I strongly feel that the information needs to be reinforced.
The authors conducted a review of 10 high-quality studies that evaluated the potential influence on survival in patients with lung cancer who quit smoking after their diagnosis. Most of the studies (9 out of 10) looked only at the effects of smoking in cessation in patients with early stage lung cancers.
What they found was quite remarkable: survival rates doubled among those patients who quit smoking after their diagnosis! In patients with early stage, non-small cell lung cancers, the 5-year survival rates were 33% vs. 70%, in smokers and non-smokers, respectively. In patients with limited stage small cell lung cancer, the 5-year survival rates were 29% vs. 63%, in smokers and non-smokers, respectively.
The authors concluded from their analysis that the doubling of survival was most likely due to the signicant reduction in the rate of lung cancer recurrence among the patients who quit smoking after their initial diagnosis.
This is an important study, as it shows that even after getting lung cancer our patients can still gain a tremendous benefit from smoking cessation. As a radiation oncologist, my patients typically meet me only after they have been diagnosed with cancer. Over the years, I have counseled many smokers on the importance of smoking cessation after their diagnosis. Smoking cessation education, counseling and treatment is an important part of overall cancer care and is a core topic of discussion in integrative oncology encounters.