Our data from these two studies show that cancer patients receive less support to quit smoking from their GP than patients with coronary heart disease, and while absolute quit rates have improved over time they remain lower than they should be. While most lung cancer patients who smoke at diagnosis continue to smoke, those who quit in the first year after diagnosis are likely to live for longer and more comfortably after surviving their cancer treatment than those who continue to smoke.’
Professor Paul Aveyard, an Oxfordshire-based GP and Professor of Behavioural Medicine in Oxford University’s Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences.
The findings also revealed that general practitioners are comparatively less likely to intervene and offer stop-smoking support to cancer patients, than they are to people diagnosed with coronary heart disease. This juxtaposition has resulted in lower quit rates among cancer patients.
The study, conducted in collaboration with the University of Nottingham and funded by the NIHR School for Primary Care Research, calls for better support for cancer patients who need help to quit smoking in the first year following diagnosis.
While just over a third of lung cancer patients were smoking at diagnosis, those who stopped smoking and survived their treatment lived on average for 1.97 years, compared with 1.08 years for those who did not quit smoking after diagnosis, finds the study published in British Journal of Cancer.
Dr Amanda Farley, lead author and lecturer at the University of Birmingham said ‘This research indicates that it is never too late to quit smoking. Although many people think that the damage is done, our research shows that even after a diagnosis of lung cancer, people can still benefit from quitting.’
Koshiaris et al. Smoking cessation and survival in lung, upper aero-digestive tract and bladder cancer: cohort study. British Journal of Cancer
Farley et al. Physician support of smoking cessation after diagnosis of lung, bladder, or aerodigestive tract cancer. Annals of Family Medicine