Study objectives: It is well-recognized that the risk of lung cancer declines after smoking cessation. However, the degree of decline in different histologic types of lung cancer is not well understood. We conducted a meta-analysis of peer-reviewed studies to assess the effect of smoking cessation on rates of major histologic types of lung cancer.
Design: Studies published in English between 1970 and 1999 were identified through searches of computerized databases (ie, MEDLINE and CANCERLIT). Combined estimates of relative risk and 95% confidence intervals were calculated for 27 studies using fixed and random effects models. Separate analyses were conducted for men and women.
Results: Smoking cessation was associated with a reduction in the risk of all the major histologic types of lung cancer. The highest reduction was in small cell lung carcinoma (SCLC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SQC), and the lowest reduction was seen in large cell cancer and adenocarcinoma. In women, the combined risks for SQC and SCLC were higher than those in men. The dose-response curve for intensity of smoking was steeper in women.
Conclusion: The findings of this study suggest that smoking cessation results in the greatest reductions for SCLC and SQC. This effect is most marked in heavy smokers, particularly among women.