Q&A: Why you should quit smoking even after a cancer diagnosis

Dear Mayo Clinic: My father, who is 68, just started treatment for bladder cancer. He’s been a smoker since his 20s, and his oncologist is strongly encouraging him to quit. It seems like trying to stop smoking now, while he’s going through chemotherapy, will just add more stress to a tough situation. Is this really the best time to work on his smoking?

A: Thank you for your question. I appreciate you sharing this information about your father. Now is an ideal time for your father to stop smoking. Quitting smoking in the face of a cancer diagnosis can have many advantages, including the potential for better treatment outcomes, reduced risk of cancer recurrence and improved overall health. In addition, your father will have a reliable source of support in his care team that he can turn to as he works through the process of quitting smoking.

The link between smoking and lung cancer, as well as head and neck cancers, has been clearly established. Smoking has been implicated in other types of cancer, too, including bladder and other gastrointestinal cancers, such as cancer of the stomach, kidney, pancreas, colon and rectum.

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