Quitting after a Diagnosis - Why it's Still Worth it

17 October 2019

Giving up cigarettes is no mean feat. But after a cancer diagnosis, there’s all the more reason to quit.

It’s not uncommon to feel like there’s no point giving up cigarettes after receiving news of a cancer diagnosis - especially when the situation feels as though it’s out of your control 1 .

Similarly, if your loved one is diagnosed with cancer, it can be really hard to know what advice you should give when it comes to the tricky topic of stopping smoking. But when it comes to smoking, there’s no better time to give up than right now. In as little as 20 minutes, the human body will start to repair some of the damage caused by smoking. It can’t repair the cancer, but stopping smoking can improve your treatment 2,3.

Here’s our top reasons for quitting after a cancer diagnosis – some of them may surprise you…

Get yourself fit for treatment

Did you know that stopping smoking could make a difference to the treatment you’re able to receive and how well that treatment works? Smoking is linked to a higher risk of something going wrong during and after surgery. So it’s not always safe for surgery to take place if a patient carries on smoking. Stopping before surgery can make a huge difference to the body’s ability to cope, and may even make way for certain treatment options that would otherwise not be possible Plus, you may not need to spend as much time recovering in hospital after surgery 4. On top of this, there’s evidence to show that other treatments like chemotherapy and radiotherapy will work better if you stop smoking 5.

Avoid extra side effects from treatment

Stopping smoking after a cancer diagnosis means people are likely to get fewer (and less severe) side effects from the treatment they’re receiving compared with people who continue to smoke - whether that be chemotherapy or radiotherapy 6,7. This can include side effects like infection, fatigue, heart and lung problems, and weight loss in people receiving chemotherapy. And, for those receiving radiotherapy, you’re less likely to get unpleasant side effects such as dry mouth, mouth sores and a loss of taste.

Decrease the chance of cancer returning, or of getting another cancer

Stopping smoking can reduce the risk of some cancers coming back, even if it’s been successfully treated, as well as reducing the risk of getting another, different cancer in the future 8.

Reduce the chance of getting other serious illnesses

By quitting smoking you can also lower the risk of getting some serious illnesses in the future, such as heart disease or stroke. Stopping means you’re giving yourself as good a chance as possible to live a long and healthy life after cancer. There are many reasons why quitting smoking after a diagnosis could improve your health. Whether it’s you or a loved one that’s stopping smoking, there’s a lot of benefits to look forward to, from giving you more energy, easing your breathing, reducing treatment side effects and even potentially speeding up your recovery from treatment. By giving up cigarettes, you’re giving your body the best chance of recovery as well as taking back some control during a very stressful time.

For more information on local stop smoking services and other support available in Yorkshire, please take a look at this article.



  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6546630/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6546630/
  3. https://ash.org.uk/information-and-resources/briefings/briefing-smoking-and-surgery/
  4. https://ash.org.uk/information-and-resources/briefings/briefing-smoking-and-surgery/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6546630/
  6. http://theoncologist.alphamedpress.org/content/16/12/1784.full
  7. https://www.asco.org/sites/new-www.asco.org/files/content-files/practice-and-guidelines/documents/stopping-tobacco-use-booklet.pdf
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6546630/

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