Smoking Cessation After Lung Cancer Diagnosis May Improve Overall Survival

Get Permission

Patients with lung cancer who quit smoking after their diagnosis experienced improvement in their overall survival compared to patients who continued smoking after diagnosis, according to results from a meta-analysis published by Caini et al in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology.

Researchers led by Saverio Caini, MD, of the Institute for Cancer Research, Prevention and Clinical Network in Florence, Italy, summarized the current scientific evidence on whether quitting smoking at or around diagnosis has a beneficial effect on the survival of patients with lung cancer.

Meta-analysis Shows Improvements in Overall Survival Rates

Dr. Caini and his team conducted a meta-analysis of published research on smoking cessation after lung cancer diagnosis and found 21 articles covering more than 10,000 patients published before October 2021.

The researchers found that smoking cessation after diagnosis was significantly associated with improved overall survival (summary relative risk [SRR] = 0.71, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.64–0.80) consistently among patients with non–small cell lung cancer (SRR = 0.77, 95% CI = 0.66–0.90, n studies = 8), small cell lung cancer (SRR = 0.75, 95% CI = 0.57–0.99, n studies = 4), or lung cancer of both or unspecified histologic type (SRR = 0.81, 95% CI = 0.68–0.96, n studies = 6).

Study Implications

“Our study suggests that treating physicians should educate patients with lung cancer about the benefits of quitting smoking even after diagnosis and provide them with the necessary smoking cessation support,” said Dr. Caini.

Smoking cessation may play a positive role in lung cancer survival because tobacco smoke promotes tumor growth, progression, and dissemination; decreases the efficacy of and tolerance to radiation and systemic therapy; and increases the risk of postoperative complications and second primary cancers, according to the study.

“The meta-analysis has implications beyond clinical practice,” Dr. Caini said. “Since heavy smokers would be primarily targeted by lung cancer screening programs, screening could serve as a teachable moment to help participants quit smoking by integrating a structured cessation program into the screening activities.”

Disclosure: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.