Many Smoke again after Successful Surgery

Even lung cancer doesn´t seem
to stop hardened smokers
© NCI Visuals Online

Sixty percent of patients who started smoking again did so within two months of surgery. "These patients are all addicted, so you cannot assume they will easily change their behaviour simply because they have dodged this particular bullet," said the study´s lead author, Mark S. Walker, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Washington University. "Their choices are driven by insidious cravings for nicotine."

The investigators found that those smokers who were the last to give up their cigarettes - some on the same day as their operation - and who saw smoking as a pleasurable activity they would have difficulty giving up, were also the first to resume the habit. And they concluded that patients who were able to hold out the longest before they took up a cigarette after surgery were the ones who were most likely not to be smoking in a year´s time.

"The results suggest that patients who wait until cancer surgery to quit smoking need assistance from the medical community to help them stay away from cigarettes, and that this intervention should begin as soon as possible after treatment," Walker said. No such programs are currently offered to lung cancer surgery patients, he added.

Investigators at Washington University and at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center enrolled 154 patients being treated for early stage lung cancer at their centres. The researchers found that 43 percent of patients smoked at some point after surgery and 37 percent were smoking 12 months after their operation.

Patients who were able to quit by the one year mark waited longer to attempt to smoke again, or never began again. In fact, more than one in four patients who smoked after surgery were nonsmokers at the 12-month follow-up, Walker said.; Source: American Association for Cancer Research