Smoking relapse - 1249866

Sun, 11/04/2012 - 14:36

Dear Doctors,

After 16 months of non smoking (being blessed with early detection and possibly curative surgery) I relapsed for 1 month. I am extremely upset feeling that I failed my doctor, my family and myself. Somehow, somewhere down the road, especially after having a hazy white patches on my CTscan in May I was so convinced that everything was lost that I started smoking again in the end of September for 1 full month. My last CTscan (last week) was crystal clear, the haziness turned out to be just resolving pneumonia.
My question is how much damage did I do in this one month period? Can this month change the course of my cancer and the future outcomes?
This may be a trivial question but I'm sure many others would like to ask the same.
Thank you.

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Dr West

There is no way to answer that -- there isn't enough known about this kind of question, and anyone with an answer would just be making it up. However, the fact that you were able to quit successfully once illustrates that you can do it again, and that is the best you could do for your lung function. Overall, the very limited evidence on continuing to smoke during treatment for lung cancer shows that outcomes are a little less favorable for current smokers, but it isn't clear how much of this is directly from smoking vs. perhaps the people who continue to smoke being less motivated about treatment and/or possibly having more tobacco-related lung cancer and being the most addicted to tobacco.

But quitting for a long time and then back sliding isn't the same thing as continuing to smoke throughout. I think it's great that you were able to quit and would encourage you to focus on quitting again in the future.

-Dr. West


Thank you Dr West. I understand that relapsing after a long time is still better than never quit and better than smoking continously.