Lung cancer patients who quit smoking see survival benefit, study finds


Lung cancer patients who quit smoking after diagnosis lived nearly 22 months longer than patients who continued smoking, according to research published July 27 in Annals of Internal Medicine.

A total of 517 patients with non-small cell lung cancer were included in the study. Researchers identified the participants from a multisite, prospective lung cancer study in Russia. 

Participants were recruited between 2007-16 and followed for an average of seven years through 2020. About 43 percent of participants quit smoking after diagnosis, while the remaining 57 percent did not. 

Patients who quit smoking lived about 6.6 years after diagnosis, compared to 4.8 years among those who continued smoking — a 21.6 month difference, findings showed. 

Smoking cessation was associated with a higher five-year overall survival rate at 60.6 percent compared to 48.6 percent among those who did not quit, findings showed. It was also associated with a lower risk for all-cause mortality, cancer-specific mortality and disease progression. 

Researchers found survival benefits among those who quit smoking across all patient subgroups, including those with later tumor stage and heavy smokers. 

"At the time of lung cancer diagnosis, patients may feel discouraged to quit smoking as they might think it is too late and there is no point in quitting smoking because they have already been diagnosed with cancer," said Paul Brennan, PhD, principal investigator on the study and part of the International Agency for Research on Cancer. "These new results strongly suggest that patients with lung cancer who smoke should be encouraged to stop smoking at any time and eat each visit after diagnosis, regardless of their tumour stage, treatment status or smoking intenstity."

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