Cancer Center Forces Patients to Quit Smoking

When cancer patients stop smoking, they heal faster, have fewer side effects from treatment, and are less likely to have a recurrence of the tumor. Today, leading cancer hospitals are helping patients quit smoking as there is increasing evidence that it will never be too late.

According to the latest study reported on Monday, lung cancer patients who quit smoking had a lifespan of almost two years compared to those who continued to smoke.

“It’s a big deal,” said Dr. Mahdi Sheikh, who led the research at the World Health Organization’s Cancer Research Institute in Lyon, France. For lung cancer, smoking cessation is “as necessary as treatment,” he said.

In the United States, many cancer centers offer proven smoking cessation strategies. Telephone counseling, nicotine patches, pills to relieve the urge to smoke. More cancer doctors are talking to patients about smoking cessation.

For some patients, the shock of cancer diagnosis can be very motivating.

Preston Browning, an electrician in Ridgetop, Tennessee, who quit smoking while recovering from cancer surgery last month, said:


Browning, now 20 years old, has been smoking one pack a day since he was 14 years old. He acknowledges support from smoking cessation drugs Chantics and tobacco treatment specialists at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. Nurse Resa Abney listened to the reasons for smoking in Browning, describing smoking as “my time” and “a little reward” and suggesting strategies that could be used. Eat breakfast instead of turning on every morning. After lunch, reach for a toothpick. Treat yourself with dessert.

“I think it would have been more difficult without Resa,” Browning said.

Browning had a rare, unexplained cancer, sarcoma, on his leg.

In contrast, lung cancer is primarily associated with tobacco use, so smokers can experience shame, despair, and despair after diagnosis, experts say. It’s welcome to hear from doctors the news that you can benefit from quitting.

In a study on Monday, researchers tracked 517 Russian lung cancer patients who smoked and checked each year to see if they would quit smoking. Five years later, about 60% of those who quit smoking were alive, while about 47% of those who continued to smoke were alive.


Researchers reported in the Journals of Internal Medicine that the effect persisted regardless of the stage of the tumor, how much the patient smoked, or how long they quit smoking after diagnosis.

“Physicians should encourage lung cancer patients to quit smoking every time,” Sheikh said.

The $ 27 million National Cancer Institute program helps 53 cancer centers integrate tobacco treatment into care. Since 2018, it has reached more than 50,000 patients.

“We have already learned a tremendous amount from now on,” said director Dr. Ned Sharpless. “With relatively modest support (these are not huge and expensive programs), we can significantly increase the number of patients reached.”

He said the next step was to spread the know-how to smaller cancer clinics.

In California, the Stanford Cancer Institute calls patients who use tobacco to provide expert support and smoking cessation medications.

“If you receive life-saving treatment, it should be provided to all patients,” said Judith Prochaska, who directs the federal-funded tobacco program at Stanford University.


At Stanford University’s cancer clinic, about one in four patients who accept tobacco treatment remains non-smoking after two years, Prochaska said.

Mike Fulton, 71, a former banking governor in San Jose, California, smoked one pack a day for decades before being diagnosed with laryngeal cancer last year. After successful radiation and chemotherapy, he still occasionally sneaked cigarettes. The cancer has healed, but I know I’m hurt because I can feel it. “

He sought help and began a weekly telephone chat with a Stanford University counselor. Tip he followed: Make your cigarettes hard to reach. He started with the bedroom drawers and moved them away.

“Finally, I put them on the roof of the gutter. To reach it, I needed a metal ladder. I climbed once and puffed from a pack of seven cigarettes. I had it. ”

“Now they’re gone,” Fulton said.

Nicotine gum and twice-daily pills help with craving.


In Houston, more than 1,000 patients participate in tobacco treatment annually at the MD Anderson Cancer Center and are counseled alone or with medication. Program director Diane Beneventi said it wasn’t enough to introduce someone to the resignation line.

“I wish everyone with cancer smoking would know that they would be in a great position to benefit if they quit,” Beneventi said. “It’s more important than ever.”

Browning, a Tennessee patient, had previously tried to quit smoking twice. This time he believes it will continue.

“Do you smoke with cancer? I think it’s a fascinating fate.”


The Associated Press’s Department of Health Sciences is supported by the Department of Science Education at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Cancer Center Forces Patients to Quit Smoking

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