If family caregivers see the cancer patient quit, they're more likely to quit themselves, Weaver said. But if either the patient or caregiver continues to smoke, it can trigger issues of guilt, stigma or blame, she added.
Continued smoking increases the likelihood of developing a secondary cancer and can interfere with treatment, the researchers say.
Another clinical reason to stop smoking, said Dr. Norman H. Edelman, chief medical officer of the American Lung Association, is that chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) usually accompanies lung cancer, making it more difficult to breathe. Continued smoking exacerbates COPD, he said.
Also, research has suggested that nicotine may be a co-promoter in generating lung cancer, so continual exposure to nicotine might work against chemotherapy treatments, Edelman said.
Given that more than 80 percent of some 200,000 lung cancer cases diagnosed annually in the United States are smoking-related, he said the complex dynamics of why so many smokers don't quit needs to be better understood.
Even patients highly motivated to stop for good often need substantial support, he added.
Weaver said the stressful period following diagnosis of lung cancer can create a "teachable moment" for physicians, nurses and other health care professionals to discuss smoking cessation with the patient and family members, and offer encouragement and resources to quit.
"My long term goal is to develop more effective interventions that can be delivered in the oncology setting, said Weaver.
Janine Cataldo, an assistant professor and researcher in physiological nursing and gerontology at the University of California San Francisco, is developing tools that measure the quality of life and impact of social stigma on lung cancer patients who continue smoking.
"For a smoker to have lung cancer and be unable to quit speaks to the power of nicotine addiction," said Cataldo. The average
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