No Need to Take a Drag?

Abrupt quitting may indicate lung cancer

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Patients who get lung cancer as a result of years of cigarette smoking have often tried (and failed) to quit on multiple occasions.

Those who are able to suddenly and successfully quit after decades of smoking may be able to do so from a sinister cause.

New research shows that the smokers who are able to abruptly quit with little or no difficulty may be showing the early signs of lung cancer.

"The ability to abruptly quit after years of smoking may be a sign of lung cancer."

Dr. Barbara Campling, professor in the Department of Medical Oncology at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and fellow researchers from the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center interviewed 115 lung cancer patients who had been smokers.

48 percent had quit smoking before their lung cancer diagnosis with only 11 percent of those having experienced lung cancer symptoms before the cessation. Of those who quit, 31 percent reported quitting with relative ease.

Researchers think this relative ease in quitting is possibly due to a tumor secretion which interferes with nicotine addiction.

For a comparison, the researchers also interviewed patients who had quit smoking before being diagnosed with prostate cancer and those who had quit smoking before having a heart attack. 

The median interval between quitting smoking then being diagnosed with lung cancer was 2.7 years while the prostate cancer group had a median interval of 24.3 years and the group having had a heart attack had a median interval of 10 years.

This of course does not mean smokers should keep on smoking or you'll end up with lung cancer.  It means if you are able to suddenly stop smoking easily for some reason, the reason may be that you have a tumor developing which is secreting a substance blocking your nicotine addiction.

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Review Date: 
April 4, 2011
Last Updated:
April 5, 2011