Substantial Minority Continue Smoking After Cancer Diagnosis

Patients with lung cancer have higher smoking rates at and after diagnosis; more likely to quit

MONDAY, Jan. 23 (HealthDay News) -- A considerable minority of patients with lung and colorectal cancer continue smoking after being diagnosed, according to study published online Jan. 23 in Cancer.

Elyse R. Park, Ph.D., M.P.H., of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues examined smoking rates at diagnosis and five months after diagnosis in 2,456 patients with lung cancer and 3,063 with colorectal cancer from the multi-regional Cancer Care Outcomes Research and Surveillance cohort. They also sought to identify factors independently associated with continued smoking.

The researchers found that 90.2 and 54.8 percent of patients with lung and colorectal cancer, respectively, reported ever-smoking. For lung cancer patients, 38.7 percent smoked at the time of their diagnosis compared with 14.2 percent five months after diagnosis. For colorectal cancer patients, 13.7 percent smoked at diagnosis and 9 percent smoked five months after diagnosis. For patients with nonmetastatic lung cancer, factors significantly associated with continued smoking included: Medicare or other public health care insurance coverage, not undergoing surgery or chemotherapy, lower body mass index, little emotional support, prior cardiovascular disease, and higher daily smoking rates. For patients with nonmetastatic colorectal cancer, factors significantly associated with continuing smoking included: male gender, high school education, being uninsured, not undergoing surgery, and higher daily rate of smoking.

"Our findings demonstrate that there is substantial quit activity before, during, and immediately following a cancer diagnosis," the authors write. "Future smoking-cessation efforts should examine differences by cancer type, particularly when comparing cancers for which smoking is a well-established risk factor versus cancers for which it is not."

One of the study authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical and health care industries.

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