New analysis suggests that lung cancer patients who quit smoking increase chances of survival

In collaboration with Adfero

People with early-stage lung cancer may double their chances of surviving for longer than five years by giving up smoking, UK scientists have found.

Researchers at the University of Birmingham analysed the results of ten existing studies, all of which had looked at the effect of quitting smoking on a person's outlook following a diagnosis of lung cancer.

They found that a person's cancer was more likely to come back, and they were more likely to develop another tumour if they carried on smoking after being diagnosed with early-stage lung cancer than if they gave up at that time. They were also more likely to die.

The study estimated that around 70 per cent of 65 year old patients with early-stage disease who quit would live for at least five years after their diagnosis, compared with just 33 per cent of persistent smokers.

This means that the chances of surviving for five years could be around twice as high for those who quit as they are for those who continue to smoke after their diagnosis.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, the study authors suggested that it may be beneficial to provide smoking cessation treatment for patients with early-stage lung cancer.

They wrote: "These data provide a strong case that smoking cessation treatment for early-stage lung cancer patients who have been unable to quit may have an important role in secondary prevention."

Writing in an accompanying editorial, Tom Treasure, professor of cardiothoracic surgery at University College London's Clinical Operational Research Unit, and Professor Janet Treasure from King's College London noted that it is "never too late for people to stop, even when they have lung cancer".

Martin Ledwick, Cancer Research UK's head information nurse, commented: "This study helps to clarify that in early lung cancer there can be a real benefit to giving up smoking.

"So it is important that people in this situation are given the help and support they need to give up."


  • Parsons, A., Daley, A., Begh, R., & Aveyard, P. (2010). Influence of smoking cessation after diagnosis of early stage lung cancer on prognosis: systematic review of observational studies with meta-analysis BMJ, 340 (jan21 1) DOI: 10.1136/bmj.b5569