It's Never Too Late To Quit Smoking

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New research shows that quitting smoking doubles 5-year survival rates among those diagnosed with early stage lung cancer. Findings were published in the January 21 online edition of BMJ.

The Study

A group of British researchers analyzed data from 10 previously conducted observational studies that looked at the impact of quitting smoking after a diagnosis of lung cancer. Their summary of the prior studies' findings showed that 63-70% of early stage lung cancer patients who quit smoking survived for 5 years, compared to only 29-33% of patients who continued to smoke. Lead author Amanda Parson noted that "Quitting smoking was associated with around double the chance of surviving at any time point compared to people who continued to smoke."

What Does This Mean?

It's common knowledge that smoking increases a person's risk for lung cancer, and that quitting is the best way to prevent the disease. However, many people think that once a diagnosis of lung cancer has been received, it is too late to for quitting smoking to make a difference. These new findings show that even after being diagnosed with early stage lung cancer, quitting smoking may make a dramatic difference in prognosis.

Dr. Norman Edelman, chief medical officer of the American Lung Association, expressed surprise at the strength of the findings. "The results are quite dramatic. I don't think anybody would have expected such a dramatic difference. It's incredible." He added that it is important to note that these results apply only to early lung cancer - only approximately 20% of lung cancers are diagnosed at the early stage.

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