Smoking and Cancer: It’s Never too Late to Quit

man in white doctor's coat breaking cigarette in half

New Brunswick, N.J., January 1, 2022 – One of the most popular resolutions at the beginning of each year is the desire to quit smoking, with more than 70 percent of smokers reporting they want to quit according to the American Lung Association. Despite a cancer diagnosis and/or cancer treatment, there are smokers who continue with this difficult addiction. Monica Gilles, MAS, RRT, NCTTP, tobacco treatment coordinator at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, shares more insight on the impact of tobacco use and cancer and steps to breathing easier this year.   

Smoking after a Cancer Diagnosis

Many people try to quit after a cancer diagnosis but often have difficulty because of the stronghold of nicotine on their bodies. Others are so stressed about the cancer and its treatment that they continue to use cigarettes as a form of stress relief. Smoking, cancer and cancer treatments put a tremendous burden on the body, and when combined, they may make it more difficult for the body to recover from treatment. People with cancer who smoke are also at an increased risk of secondary cancer and other serious illnesses, such as heart and lung diseases. Continuing to smoke can make treatments for cancer much less effective. Smoking during treatment for cancer also has a significant negative impact on cancer symptoms and side effects including infection, fatigue, heart and lung problems and weight loss.

Consider the long-term Impact

Stopping tobacco use after diagnosis offers many physical and mental benefits.  After cancer treatment is finished, the long-term health benefits of not smoking also are significant. Quitting smoking can dramatically improve heart and lung health. It can lower blood pressure and heart rate, reduce the risk of coronary artery disease and heart disease, ease shortness of breath and coughing, and increase physical stamina. Quitting smoking can add years to a person’s life.

Rutgers Cancer Institute is here for you every step of the way with tools, tips and support.

The path to successfully quitting smoking is not easy, but it is possible. It usually involves a combination of counseling and support from professionals with expertise in smoking cessation along with medication treatment to reduce the urges to smoke. At Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, we encourage you to consider tobacco cessation as a way for you to become an active partner in your treatment and to assure a more successful recovery. As the state’s only National Cancer Institute- designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, we now offer a new program, part of the National Cancer Institute’s Moonshot Program, designed to integrate tobacco treatment into the patient-care workflow, to provide state-of-the-art tobacco treatment and cessation support to all patients at no cost.

Learn about the Tobacco Dependence Program supported by Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, Screen NJ, and Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.


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