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Nearly 20% of Lung Cancer Patients Keep Smoking
Date:4/10/2011

By John Leighty
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, April 8 (HealthDay News) -- Many patients diagnosed with lung cancer -- as well as their family caregivers -- continue to smoke even though doing so may jeopardize their recovery and long-term health outcome, says a study sponsored by the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

Researchers report that nearly one in five recently diagnosed lung cancer patients continues to light up, which can make them feel guilty or socially stigmatized.

"The biggest obstacle is fatalism, the belief that it is too late to quit smoking so why bother," said Kathryn E. Weaver, study lead author and assistant professor of social sciences and health policy at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.

"There are benefits to be gained by quitting that have important implications for survival, response to treatments, and quality of life," she said.

The findings point to the need for family support, counseling and medication to help patients and/or family caregivers overcome their addiction and adopt healthy lifestyle choices, said Weaver.

The study was recently published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

The researchers looked at 742 cancer patients and caregivers at multiple sites and found that 18 percent of smokers with lung cancer failed to quit after their diagnosis. Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer.

Among a subset of smokers with colorectal cancer, which is not strongly associated with tobacco use, 12 percent of the patients continued smoking.

An even higher proportion of the patients' family caregivers also kept on smoking -- 25 percent of those caring for lung cancer patients and 20 percent of those caring for colorectal cancer patients, the researchers found.

Most of the caregivers were middle-aged females and were often spouses of the patients. In some cases, both the patient and the caregiver continued
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