Benefits of Quitting Tobacco Use

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 01/2019

There are many physical and mental benefits of quitting tobacco use after a cancer diagnosis. These may include:

  • Longer survival

  • More successful treatment

  • Fewer and less-serious side effects from all types of cancer treatment

  • Faster recovery from treatment

  • Lower risk of a second cancers

  • Lower risk of infection

  • Easier breathing

  • More energy

  • Better quality of life

Risks of continuing to smoke

Continuing to use tobacco after a cancer diagnosis increases your risk of the following:

  • Worse side effects from surgery. These may include side effects involving the heart and lungs, along with a slower recovery.

  • Worse side effects from chemotherapy. These may include infection, fatigue, heart and lung problems, and weight loss.

  • Worse side effects from radiation therapy. These may include mouth sores, loss of taste, worse voice quality, and bone and soft tissue problems.

  • Increased chance of the cancer coming back after treatment

  • Increased risk of other serious illnesses caused by tobacco use, such as heart and lung diseases or a second cancer

Myths about quitting smoking

The following are some misunderstandings that people commonly have about smoking.

Myth: There is no point in quitting smoking now that I have cancer.

Fact: It is never too late to quit smoking. People who quit smoking after a cancer diagnosis experience the following benefits compared with people who continue to smoke:

  • Longer life

  • A better chance of successful treatment

  • Fewer side effects from treatment

  • Faster recovery

  • Better quality of life

Myth: Quitting smoking is too stressful for people receiving cancer treatment.

Fact: Nicotine addiction is hard to break. And you may find the withdrawal process uncomfortable. But the benefits of quitting smoking outweigh the challenges.

Myth: People can quit by themselves. They do not need help from a health care professional.

Fact: Many people can and do quit by themselves, but you may increase your chances of quitting successfully with the help of your health care team. They can offer support, information, and medication to help you quit for good.

Myth: Most medications used to quit smoking are not successful.

Fact: Many studies show that several medications can lower nicotine withdrawal symptoms and increase your chances of overcoming nicotine addiction. Your health care team can recommend the right medicine for you.

Related Resources

Talking With Your Health Care Team About Smoking or Other Tobacco Use

How to Quit Smoking and Using Tobacco

Resources to Help You Quit Smoking

More Information

National Cancer Institute: Harms of Cigarette Smoking and Health Benefits of Quitting

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Quitting Smoking