If you smoke and have tried to quit, you know it isn’t easy. You probably also know that the single best thing you can do to improve your overall health is to quit smoking. But did you know that there are important reasons why people who are being treated for cancer should not smoke and should avoid second-hand smoke?
Your cancer treatment might work better. One of the most important reasons for you to not smoke is that your cancer treatment has a better chance of being successful. Cancer treatments don’t work as well in people who smoke, and it’s more likely that cancer will continue to grow (progress) in smokers. The chemicals in cigarettes make chemotherapy and radiation therapy less effective.
Smokers have a higher chance of having problems during and after surgery. During surgery, smokers have a higher chance of having lung or heart problems with a general anesthetic. Because the lungs are damaged from the chemicals in cigarette smoke, lung infections and pneumonia are more common in smokers after surgery. Smokers don’t heal as well as non-smokers after surgery. The tissues need oxygen for healing, but the carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke lowers the oxygen level in the blood.
Side effects aren’t as bad. Side effects from treatment can be hard to cope with, but they may be even harder to deal with if you smoke. Smokers have more problems with fatigue, nausea, pain, hair loss and skin problems. Taste changes and mouth problems are also worse in smokers. And these side effects last much longer than they do in non-smokers. If cancer treatment has put you into menopause, quitting can help relieve hot flashes.
You reduce your risk of a new cancer or cancer coming back (recurring). Smoking increases the chances of getting cancer in the same place or developing a new, different cancer somewhere else in the body.
A drug or gas used during an operation to relieve pain and cause loss of consciousness.
Great progress has been made
Some cancers, such as thyroid and testicular, have survival rates of over 90%. Other cancers, such as pancreatic, brain and esophageal, continue to have very low survival rates.