Smoking cessation is challenging even for patients recovering from lung cancer surgery with curative intent

Lung Cancer. 2009 Nov;66(2):218-25. doi: 10.1016/j.lungcan.2009.01.021. Epub 2009 Mar 24.


Background: Although it is recommended that smokers undergoing surgery for lung cancer quit smoking to reduce post-operative complications, few studies have examined patterns of smoking in the peri-operative period. The goals of this study were to determine: (1) patterns of smoking during post-operative recovery, (2) types of cessation strategies used to quit smoking, and (3) factors related to smoking after lung cancer surgery.

Methods: Data were collected from 94 patients through chart review, tobacco, health status, and symptom questionnaires at 1, 2, and 4 months after surgery. Smoking status was assessed through self-report and urinary cotinine measurement.

Results: Eighty-four patients (89%) were ever-smokers and 35 (37%) reported smoking at diagnosis. Thirty-nine (46%) ever-smokers remained abstinent, 13 (16%) continued smoking at all time-points, and 32 (38%) relapsed. Ten (46%) of those who relapsed were former-smokers and had not smoked for at least 1 year. Sixteen (46%) of those who were smoking at diagnosis received cessation assistance with pharmacotherapy being the most common strategy. Factors associated with smoking during recovery were younger age and quitting smoking < or =6 months before the diagnosis of lung cancer. Factors that were marginally significant were lower educational level, male gender, lower number of comorbidities, and the presence of pain.

Conclusion: Only half of those who were smoking received assistance to quit prior to surgery. Some patients were unable to quit and relapse rates post-surgery were high even among those who quit more than 1 year prior. Innovative programs incorporating symptom management and relapse prevention may enhance smoking abstinence during post-operative care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Care*
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*
  • Smoking Cessation / statistics & numerical data