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Smoking Cessation before Surgery Helpful for Cancer Patients

Update Date: Jan 23, 2013 07:28 AM EST
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For people who are suffering from lung, head or neck cancer, it might be a good idea to stop smoking before surgery as the chances of a relapse are less. For those who continue smoking, additional precaution have to be taken to prevent a relapse, suggests a study.

The study was done by Dr Vani Nath Simmons, assistant member of the Health Outcomes and Behavior Program at Moffitt and Dr Thomas H. Brandon, director of the Tobacco Research and Intervention Program at Moffitt and published in the journal, Cancer.

"Cigarette smoking is responsible for 30 percent of all cancer-related mortalities. Head and neck and lung cancers are the most strongly linked to tobacco use. Many patients with these cancers make an attempt to quit smoking at the time of diagnosis. However, little attention has been paid to looking at how successful patients are at quitting and what predicts who is likely to resume smoking. This is particularly a concern for cancer patients because continued smoking can be related to cancer recurrence, cancer treatment complications, second primary tumors and poorer quality of life," Simmons was quoted in MedicalXpress.

In the research, the scientists studied the effect of smoking on the cancer patients following surgery for one year in order to find the chances of relapse. For the study, volunteers were taken from the clinics at Moffitt; these patients had left smoking shortly before or after their surgeries.

The researchers tested the volunteers' smoking habits after every two months from the date of surgery and found that the rate of relapse was significantly lower in patients who had left smoking just before their surgery.

"We found that relapse rates varied significantly depending on a patient's pre-surgery smoking status. Sixty percent of patients who smoked during the week prior to surgery resumed smoking afterward, contrasted with a 13 percent relapse rate for those who had quit smoking prior to surgery." Simmons added.

"Cancer patients need to know that it's never too late to quit. Of course, it would be best if they quit smoking before getting cancer; but barring that, they should quit as soon as they get diagnosed. And with a little assistance, there is no reason that they can't succeed." Simmons explained.

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