Background: A reduction in the risk of lung carcinoma and a lower death rate among former smokers (FS) compared with current smokers (CS) have been documented in numerous U.S. and international studies. The main objective of our study was to compare the differences in demographic and clinical characteristics in groups stratified by smoking status and gender to evaluate the effect of smoking history and cessation on age at lung carcinoma diagnosis and on specific histologic type.
Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study of lung cancer at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center from January 1986 to December 1990 and from January 1992 to December 1993. This study included 1039 patients age 19-88 with confirmed primary lung carcinoma who responded to self-administered risk factor questionnaires. Among them, 497 patients (47.83%) were CS, 444 patients (42.73%) were FS, 98 patients (9.43%) had never smoked (NS), and 840 patients (80.8%) were heavy smokers (more than 20 pack-years).
Results: The median age at lung carcinoma diagnosis for FS was slightly later than that for CS. The histologic type of lung carcinoma for those who had quit smoking more than 20 years previously was not significantly different from that of NS, but was significantly different from that of CS (P < 0.05) and from those who quit smoking fewer than 10 years previously (P < 0.10). CS was a positive predictor for both small cell carcinoma (odds ratio [OR] = 8.79) and squamous cell carcinoma (OR = 2.11) and negatively associated with adenocarcinoma (OR = 0.50), whereas FS was a positive predictor only for small cell carcinoma (OR = 5.50). The variable of pack-years was negatively associated with adenocarcinoma and positively associated with small cell carcinoma in all patients combined and in women, and was also positively associated with squamous carcinoma in all patients after adjustment by smoking status.
Conclusions: These results indicate that smoking cessation or less life-time smoking exposure affects the distribution of specific histologic subtypes of lung cancer, especially for women, and that smoking cessation may postpone the age at which lung cancer occurs.