Giving up smoking
If you are having treatment for cancer, stopping smoking may help the treatment work better. It can help your body respond to the treatment and heal more quickly.
How smoking affects surgery
If you stop smoking before having surgery:
- you are likely to recover more quickly
- you are more likely have a shorter stay in hospital
- your wound is likely to heal more quickly.It is best to stop smoking 8 weeks before having surgery. But even stopping a few weeks before and not smoking after surgery will reduce the risk of complications.
How smoking affects radiotherapy
Research has shown that stopping smoking during and after radiotherapy may make the treatment more effective. It can also reduce the side effects of radiotherapy.
You are likely to have fewer side effects from cancer treatment if you do not smoke and they also tend to be less severe.
Stopping smoking may also lower the risk of cancer coming back after treatment.
Living with cancer and having treatment can be very difficult. Some people feel that smoking will help them cope with what is happening.
If you smoke, giving up is the healthiest decision you can make. Your doctor can give you advice on the benefits of stopping smoking, for the type of cancer you have.
Deciding to give up smoking and wanting to succeed are important steps in becoming a non-smoker. Giving up smoking is not easy, but you can help yourself by preparing for possible problems before you stop.
It is important to get support. Friends and family can help as well as your doctor or pharmacist. Using a stop smoking service can improve your chances of success.
Go to a stop smoking service
Research shows that people who use stop smoking services are twice as likely to succeed than people who try to give up smoking on their own.
Stop smoking services have specialist treatment for people who want to give up smoking. They can:
- give you information about smoking and giving up
- help you prepare a plan for stopping and give ongoing support
- prescribe medicines to help improve withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings
- arrange weekly meetings where you can meet other people who are trying to give up.
There are stop smoking services across the UK:
- In England, contact NHS Smokefree.
- In Scotland, contact Quit Your Way Scotland.
- In Wales, contact Help Me Quit.
- In Northern Ireland, contact Want2stop.
Whether you are living with cancer or recovering from treatment, giving up smoking has important health benefits. Stopping smoking will reduce your risk of:
- heart disease
- lung disease
- bone thinning (osteoporosis)
- smoking-related cancers, such as lung cancer and head and neck cancers.
Giving up smoking will:
- increase your energy levels
- improve your blood circulation
- reduce your risk of a stroke
- lower your blood pressure
- boost your immune system
- help improve your breathing or stop it from getting worse.