Cancer survivors less likely to quit smoking
Cancer survivors who smoke do not see the nicotine habit as all that bad and have a tougher time quitting, according to a new study.
Survivors who currently smoked perceived health problems caused by smoking as less severe compared with those who quit before or after diagnosis, according to a new report from the American Cancer Society’s Study of Cancer Survivors. They also perceived fewer benefits of quitting, more barriers to quitting, and reported more daily exposure to secondhand smoke.
“I think the study reinforces the efforts doctors have to put to educate, encourage and follow up with patients regarding smoking habits on a regular basis,” says Dr. C. Yeshwant, an oncologist at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, ill. “We have to offer resources to help smokers quit.”
For the new study, researchers examined psychological correlations between smoking status and patterns, likelihood of quitting, and intentions to quit among long-term survivors who participated in the Study of Cancer Survivors, a longitudinal nationwide study of adult survivors of 10 commonly diagnosed cancers.
Researchers also found that cancer survivors who planned to quit rated the risks of smoking as higher and more severe than survivors who didn’t plan to quit or weren’t sure if they wanted to.
Survivors intending to quit were less likely to see benefits from smoking, and survivors who didn’t smoke every day were much less exposed to other smokers and had more confidence in their ability to quit.
“The association between smoking and exposure to others’ smoke was particularly eye-opening,” said Dr. Lee Westmaas, lead study author, in a press release. “Being around other smokers may be a major reason why cancer survivors are smoking and should be something that is addressed in recommending treatments for helping cancer patients quit.
Dr. Yeshwant agrees.
“I usually spend considerable time strongly recommending to patients to quit smoking all together,” he says. “We have to find ways to also educate and encourage the family members and friends of such patients who are smokers to quit smoking.”
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