Quitting Smoking Early to Improve Your Chances of Surviving Lung Cancer: What You Need to Know

quitting smoking early

No one wants a cancer diagnosis, least of all a lung cancer one. It’s the leading cause of cancer death worldwide. It kills approximately 127,070 Americans every year. And its primary risk factor is a habit you might know all too well: smoking.

However, even a lung cancer diagnosis can be overcome. There is a 56% survival rate if your doctor manages to catch the disease early—and if you give up cigarettes, you might be able to boost that likelihood even more.

Here’s an overview of how quitting smoking early can improve your chances of surviving lung cancer and the steps you can take to start.

Table of Contents

How smoking cessation improves your chances of lung cancer survival

A large part of what makes cigarette use so dangerous is what it exposes you to. Just one cigarette contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including formaldehyde and ammonia—and many of them are carcinogenic.

Exposure to these chemicals, especially on a frequent basis, damages your body. In addition, the act of smoking compromises your immune system and dismantles your body’s defenses against cancer.

Putting a stop to this continuous harm is a concrete step in decreasing your risk of succumbing to cancer. In a 2023 study from JAMA Network Open, researchers did a long-term follow-up investigation of lung cancer survivors, comparing the mortality rate of former and current smokers to non-smokers.

Current smokers had a 68% higher mortality, while former smokers had 26%. In other words, quitting cigarettes is associated with lower mortality—and the sooner you quit, the better.

How to start quitting today

Try nicotine replacement therapy

Smoking cessation is essential—but quitting abruptly could invoke severe withdrawal symptoms like headaches or nausea that might lead to relapse, which would be detrimental to lung cancer recovery. To avoid that, you can try nicotine replacement therapy.

This involves using tobacco-free nicotine products to soothe the cessation process. You can start with nicotine pouches—soft packets with food-grade fillings, flavorings, and nicotine that you place between your gum and upper lip.

The Velo nicotine pouches featured on Prilla are one brand growing across the United States that is popular because they come in a range of flavors, such as wintergreen and coffee.

They're free of many of the toxic chemicals cigarettes contain, and there’s a full spectrum of nicotine strengths for you to choose from per your needs. You can also use nicotine lozenges from Nicorette and other such brands.

These are similar to their traditional counterpart but dissolve in your mouth to deliver nicotine. Both products can help you stop smoking gradually over time.

Change your diet

Food can have a direct impact on your health. You can leverage that to quit smoking, as certain foods can assist you in that regard.

Ginseng tea, for example, is known to be therapeutic for nicotine addiction because of its dampening effect on dopamine—one of the neurotransmitters stimulated when smoking tobacco.

Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can also help you regain nutrients that cigarette smoking has blocked your body from absorbing and may also assist in reducing urges to smoke.

In addition, a 2023 BJC study found that a low-quality diet was associated with increased lung cancer risk. Eating a healthful diet helps to both reduce that risk and strengthen your body to fight against the disease.

Call a quitline

You’re more likely to quit smoking—and beat lung cancer—with support. To get professional help, you can call a quit line, allowing you to communicate with a highly trained quit coach who will help you configure and access a treatment suitable to your needs. Call the national hotline by dialing 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

There are many more great health articles on our site - why not start with our recent piece titled ‘Why Doesn't Caffeine Affect Me?’