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Cancer patients who quit sooner, lived further for an average for 1.97 years, whilst those who smoked past their diagnosis only lived for an average of 1.08 years.
The study which was published in the British Journal of Cancer, indicates that while approximately a third of lung cancer patients were smoking when they got diagnosed, those who stopped sooner and survived their treatment, lived further for an average for 1.97 years, whilst those who smoked past their diagnosis only lived for an average of 1.08 years.

The Researchers conducting this study were from the Universities of Oxford and Birmingham, in collaboration with the University of Nottingham and funded by the NIHR School for Primary Care Research. In addition to the effect that the time of quitting had on their lifespan, the researchers unfortunately also found, that physicians are less likely to insist on smoking cessation programs with cancer patients, than they do with coronary heart disease patients.

“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.”Professor Paul Aveyard, GP and Professor of Behavioural Medicine in Oxford University’s Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences

Using anonymised records, the researchers found the following:

  • Only 37% of cancer patients had their smoking status record updated, vs 78% of coronary heart disease patients;
  • 24% of cancer patients were offered advice on quitting smoking, versus 48% of coronary heart disease patients;
  • Only 13% of cancer patients were prescribed a smoking cessation aid, versus 22% of coronary heart disease patients.

This resulted in only one-third (36.7%) of cancer patients quitting cigarettes, as opposed to almost half (44.4%), of coronary heart disease patients.

How about starting by supporting the professionals delivering the care?

Lead study author Professor Paul Aveyard, a GP from Oxfordshire and Professor of Behavioural Medicine in Oxford University’s Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, pointed out the importance of increasing stop smoking support for cancer patients.

“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.”

“Given this finding, cancer patients who smoke would clearly benefit if GPs became more actively involved in offering support to quit smoking as they do with other smoking-related illnesses. To make this a reality for people with cancer, we need research to understand and support GPs to provide the best support possible for patients with cancer to quit smoking.” Professor Paul Aveyard, GP and Professor of Behavioural Medicine in Oxford University’s Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences

He added that perhaps General Practitioners themselves need further support, so that in turn they are able to better support their patients. “Given this finding, cancer patients who smoke would clearly benefit if GPs became more actively involved in offering support to quit smoking as they do with other smoking-related illnesses. To make this a reality for people with cancer, we need research to understand and support GPs to provide the best support possible for patients with cancer to quit smoking.”

Read Further : University of Oxford

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