FRIDAY, Jan. 25, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Cancer patients who smoked up until their surgery were more likely to take up the habit again compared to those who quit earlier, a new study finds.
The study from the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., included lung cancer and head and neck cancer patients who quit smoking before or immediately after surgery. They were followed for a year after the surgery.
"Sixty percent of patients who smoked during the week prior to surgery resumed smoking afterward, contrasted with a 13 percent relapse rate for those who had quit smoking prior to surgery," study corresponding author Vani Nath Simmons said in a Moffitt news release.
The significantly lower smoking relapse rate for those who quit smoking before surgery shows the need to encourage patients to quit smoking when they're diagnosed with cancer, the researchers said.
The investigators also noted that most of the patients who began smoking again did so shortly after surgery, which shows the importance of anti-smoking programs for patients both before and after surgery.
The study also found that patients were more likely to resume smoking if they had a high amount of fear about cancer recurrence, had a higher risk for depression, and were less likely to believe in their ability to quit smoking.
"Cancer patients need to know that it's never too late to quit," Simmons said. "Of course, it would be best if they quit smoking before getting cancer; but barring that, they should quit as soon as they get diagnosed. And with a little assistance, there is no reason that they can't succeed."
The American Cancer Society offers a guide to quitting smoking.