Quitting smoking doubles chance of survival for lung cancer patients

Quitting smoking doubles chance of survival for lung cancer patients

A study published on bmj.com today reports that people diagnosed with early stage lung cancer can double their chances of survival over five years if they stop smoking compared with those who continue to smoke.

This is the first evaluation of several studies that assess the effects of continued smoking after diagnosis of lung cancer. It indicates that it may be beneficial to propose smoking cessation treatment to patients with early stage lung cancer.

Lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer worldwide. In the UK, it accounts for around 39,000 new cancer diagnoses annually and is second after breast cancer.

Smoking increases the risk of developing a primary lung cancer. Lifelong smokers have a twenty-fold increased risk compared with non-smokers. But it is unclear whether quitting after a diagnosis of lung cancer has any benefit.

In order to find out more, researchers at the University of Birmingham conducted an analysis of the results of ten studies. They measured the effect of quitting smoking after diagnosis of lung cancer on prognosis.

To lessen preconception, differences in study design and quality were considered.

Findings indicated that people who continued to smoke after a diagnosis of early stage lung cancer had a considerably higher risk of death. They also had a greater risk of the tumor returning compared with those who stopped smoking at that time. Records showed that most of the amplified risk of death was due to cancer evolution.

Additional examination found a five year survival rate of 63 to 70 percent among quitters compared with 29 to 33 percent among those who continued to smoke. This means that about twice as many quitters would survive for five years compared with continuing smokers.

The authors explain that these findings back-up the theory that continued smoking affects the behavior of a lung tumor. In addition, they promote giving smoking cessation treatment to patients with early stage lung cancer.

In closing they say that further trials are required to examine these questions.

An associated editorial comments that this study confirms the indication that it is never too late for people to stop smoking, even when they have lung cancer.

"Influence of smoking cessation after diagnosis of early stage lung cancer on prognosis: systematic review of observational studies with meta-analysis"

A Parsons, research fellow, A Daley, senior lecturer, NIHR career scientist, R Begh, research associate,P Aveyard, clinical reader, NIHR career scientist

BMJ 2010;340:b5569


"Smoking cessation"

Tom Treasure, professor of cardiothoracic surgery, Janet Treasure, professor of psychiatry

BMJ 2010; 340:b5630


Listen Out for Lung Cancer (Video Medical And Professional 2020).

Section Issues On Medicine: Disease