Study objective: This study was designed to examine the extent of smoking cessation prior to thoracotomy for resection of a pulmonary malignancy and the recidivism rate.
Design: Prospective, longitudinal study.
Patients: All patients presenting to the General Thoracic Clinic.
Results: The study included 362 patients, with an average age of 64.7 years; 95% with a smoking history were followed up for an average of 17.5 months. Five surgeons in the same practice group performed the procedures: pneumonectomy, 45; lobectomy, 288; and lesser resections, 29. Forty-two percent of patients had quit prior to 1 year; 6% quit 3 months to 1 year; 15% quit between 2 weeks to 3 months; 12% quit at 2 weeks; and 19% continued to smoke up to surgery. Postoperatively, 86% of previously smoking patients were nonsmoking; 13% of patients started smoking again. Of the restarted smoking patients, 61% had never quit preoperatively. Only 59% of smoking patients admitted that a physician had ever told them to stop smoking; however, 89% of patients who were smoking postoperatively acknowledged physician advice to stop smoking.
Conclusions: Long-term smoking cessation occurs in a large proportion of patients after resection of lung cancer. The longer the patient is nonsmoking preoperatively, the more likely he or she is to remain nonsmoking postoperatively. Conversely, patients who do not quit preoperatively are at significant risk of continuing to smoke postoperatively.