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Smoking Again After Lung Cancer Surgery

What does it take to get smokers to give up the habit? For some, not even lung cancer surgery does the trick.

In a study of lung cancer patients, researchers found that almost half started smoking again within a year after surgery — most within two months of the operation.

”Given the risks of continued smoking,” the authors write in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, ”one might assume that most lung cancer patients who smoke at the time of their diagnosis would immediately quit.”

But the power of cigarettes, they found, proved too great, even though smoking has been shown in cancer patients to contribute to secondary tumors following surgery and to a higher overall mortality rate. To say nothing of the fact that smoking is considered responsible for 90 percent of lung cancer cases in the first place, said the authors, who were led by Mark S. Walker, a psychologist at the Washington University School of Medicine.

The study looked at 154 patients who had early-stage surgery to treat non-small-cell lung cancer. All had given up smoking before the surgery. Researchers followed their progress over the next year to see if they had fallen off the wagon.

Those patients who waited until the last minute before surgery to quit were more likely to relapse. So were those patients who reported stronger cravings for cigarettes before their operation, as well as those who earned less money.

For some reason, those with more education also seemed somewhat more likely to go back to smoking. ”The finding is at odds with most previous research,” Dr. Walker said in an e-mail message. And in any case, he said, it was not one of the stronger predictors.

Source:The New York Times

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