earn why it's important to quit smoking after cancer.

It may seem unbelievable to someone who doesn’t smoke, but lighting up after a cancer diagnosis is more common than you might think.

In fact, according to one recent study, nearly 10 percent of cancer patients continue to smoke years after their diagnosis, with the majority of them doing so on a daily basis. People who have had cancer of the bladder, ovaries, and lungs are even more likely to keep smoking. Overall, cancer survivors who smoked light up an average of 15 cigarettes a day.

That’s a concern, because smoking is not only dangerously unhealthy, but can also make you less likely to respond to your cancer treatment. Here are four good reasons why it’s time for cancer survivors to quit for good.

“Cancer diagnosis is a great time to quit smoking because it can increase survival rates and reduce the chance of cancer treatment complications and significantly improve quality of life,” says Lanie K. Francis, MD, medical oncologist and program director at the Wellness and Integrative Oncology Program at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center.

Learn more by visiting the UPMC Smoking Cessation website.

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Why You Should Quit Smoking After a Cancer Diagnosis

Quitting lowers the chance of cancer recurrence

Smoking doesn’t just increase the chances of lung cancer returning. It can also raise the risk of other cancers recurring, including those involving the larynx, throat, mouth, kidney, bladder, liver, and pancreas.

Smoking can cause chronic health problems

Even if you’ve beaten cancer, smoking still makes you vulnerable to a slew of other chronic conditions, from cardiovascular disease to diabetes.

Smoking limits the effectiveness of your cancer treatment

Smoking can alter the way your body processes chemotherapy drugs and increases your chance of developing complications from this cancer treatment.

“Smoking during cancer treatment can increase the toxic side effects from chemotherapy and decrease your response rate to chemotherapy and radiation,” Dr. Francis says.

Smoking can worsen your treatment side effects

Cancer treatment can be hard on your body, even if you’re otherwise healthy. Smoking makes side effects (such as fatigue, nausea, hair loss, and pain) worse, even months after treatment has ended.

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Tips to Help You Quit

That’s powerful evidence of the importance of quitting tobacco. But for many people, that’s easier said than done.

“While cancer diagnosis is a stressful time, many patients want and can quit smoking with tools such as nicotine replacement and support from their care team,” Dr. Francis says.

The first step is to set a quit date — and stick to it. Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all option when it comes to choosing your quit method. Different methods may be more effective than others, depending on your lifestyle and personality.

Options include going cold turkey; tapering the number of cigarettes you smoke each day over a specific period; using smoking cessation products; and seeking professional support. Your physician can tell you more about the best approaches for smoking cessation.

Learn more by visiting the UPMC Smoking Cessation website.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .

About UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

When you are facing cancer, you need the best care possible. UPMC Hillman Cancer Center provides world-class cancer care, from diagnosis to treatment, to help you in your cancer battle. We are the only comprehensive cancer center in our region, as designated by the National Cancer Institute. We have more than 70 locations throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York, with more than 200 oncologists – making it easier for you to find world-class care close to home. Our internationally renowned research team is striving to find new advances in prevention, detection, and treatment. Most of all, we are here for you. Our patient-first approach aims to provide you and your loved ones the care and support you need. To find a provider near you, visit our website.