If you smoke, quit. It will be the smartest decision you make on your journey to fight cancer. There’s nothing more damaging to your treatment and overall health than tobacco use. The sooner you quit the better. Smoking decreases your chance of survival, increases your chance of cancer recurrence, and exposes you to a number of other ailments – including a second cancer down the road, pulmonary disease and heart disease.
It’s known that tobacco causes many types of cancer. Unfortunately, it’s often overlooked that smoking changes the course of your disease after diagnosis. Smoking alters the effectiveness of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. It also weakens your reaction to medications and lowers your immune response. Improving quality of life and maintaining good health during treatment is vital - proper rest, nutrition and exercise are recommended. However, if you smoke, your efforts towards good health are squandered.
A cancer diagnosis is extremely stressful for you and your loved ones. However, don’t look to tobacco to alleviate anxiety. Not only is it important for you to lead a healthy, smoke-free lifestyle, it’s crucial for your family members to do the same. This will help lay a solid foundation for optimal health during your fight and beyond.
Cancer is a life-changing event and it’s the perfect time to stop smoking. As the Director of Just Breathe – a Roswell Park tobacco assessment and cessation support program – I know how difficult cessation can be, but there is a lot of help available. Call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) to learn more about Just Breathe or call the NYS Smokers' Quitline. Speak with your clinical oncologist or your primary care physician and try to quit immediately. It’s your best chance of getting a good response to cancer treatment, improving your outcome and maintaining long-term health.
Dr. Warren is no longer employed at Roswell Park.