Many patients diagnosed with lung cancer as well as their family caregivers continue to smoke even though doing so may risk their recovery and long-term health. They looked at 742 cancer patients and caregivers at multiple sites and found that 18 percent of smokers with lung cancer failed to quit after their diagnosis. Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer.
Among a subset of smokers with colorectal cancer, which is not strongly associated with tobacco use, 12 percent of the patients continued smoking. An even higher proportion of the patients' family caregivers also kept on smoking 25 percent of those caring for lung cancer patients and 20 percent of those caring for colorectal cancer patients. Most of the caregivers were middle-aged females and were often spouses of the patients. In some cases, both the patient and the caregiver continued smoking. If family caregivers see the cancer patient quit, they're more likely to quit themselves. But if either the patient or caregiver continues to smoke, it can trigger issues of guilt, stigma or blame.
Continued smoking has serious repercussions for lung cancer patients. Patients may develop appetite loss, fatigue, and cough or coughing up of blood, pain and poor sleep. Self-esteem suffers too, and anxiety and depression may also develop. The immediate benefits of quitting smoking are easier breathing, increased circulation and improved efficacy of cancer treatments. People find that once they quit, they have an increased joy of life, no matter how much they believed in the myth that they would miss cigarettes.