Quit smoking

Quitting smoking doubles lung cancer survival rates

Zone default image Smoking affects tumour behaviour

People with early stage lung cancer who quit smoking can double their chances of survival, a new study has found.

Worldwide, lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer. In the UK, it is the second most common cancer after breast cancer. Each year around 39,000 people are diagnosed with the disease, and over 34,000 die from it.

Although smoking is the major risk factor for developing lung cancer, little was known on whether quitting smoking after lung cancer diagnosis is of any benefit to patients.

Researchers at the University of Birmingham analysed the results of 10 studies that measured the effect of quitting smoking after a diagnosis of lung cancer.

The patients who quit smoking had a five year survival rate of 63-70% compared with 29-33% among those who continued to smoke - about twice as many quitters survived compared with those who continued to smoke.

They also found that people who continued to smoke after a diagnosis of early stage lung cancer had a a higher risk of death and greater risk of the tumour returning compared with those who stopped smoking at that time.

The findings suggest that continued smoking affects the behaviour of the lung tumour, and makes a strong case for patients with early stage lung cancer to quit smoking.

An accompanying editorial in the British Medical Journal says the study adds more to the evidence that it is never too late for people to stop smoking, even when they have lung cancer.

This article was published on Mon 25 January 2010



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