Cessation of tobacco use may improve lives of cancer patients
We all know that tobacco use (either through smoking or the use of smokeless tobacco) is bad for our health. Smoking leads to deadly ailments such as heart disease, vascular disease, or cancer. We also know that quitting improves our overall health, beginning the day that you quit. However, some who have been diagnosed with cancer think that it’s too late to quit smoking. They believe that the damage has already been done and quitting will not improve their health; but it will. While there is still much to learn about how smoking affects cancer treatment and its outcomes, new studies are emerging that demonstrate how smoking interferes with treatment. Smoking reduces the effectiveness of some drugs and can intensify potentially toxic side effects. Smoking also impedes recovery from surgery, reduces overall compliance to taking medication, and can decrease the prospects for a full recovery. These effects on quality of life and survival are not limited to “tobacco related” cancers such as those of the lung or head/neck. Smoking leads to poorer outcomes for patients with many forms of cancer including breast, prostate, colorectal, esophageal, to name a few.
In April 2013, the American Association for Cancer Researchers (AACR) published a call for action in Clinical Cancer Research. They advocate for increased research funding to investigate how continued smoking impacts the therapeutic response and clinical outcomes, implementation of tobacco cessation programs, and a greater understanding of smoking prevalence among cancer patients.
Smoking cessation programs should be provided to patients to improve the quality of life and overall survival of cancer patients. This leads to critical questions like where will treatment be administered? Will this be through doctor’s offices? Who will pay? Will this be covered by insurance? AACR is taking a stand and shining a light on the need for improved smoking cessation programs and an improved understanding of the implications of smoking on treatment and care. What should be done? Who should be implementing this? Can public awareness help improve the lives of some cancer patients?
Image from: www.fwweekly.com.
Article reviewed by Stephanie Byng.
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