Some Smokers Can’t Quit Even After Suffering Head and Neck Cancers

5/3/2002 Michigan Sonia Duffy, Ph.D., R.N. Center for the Advancement of Health Even a bout with head and neck cancer cannot stop some people from smoking, despite many indicating that they want to quit, according to a new study. Head and neck cancer patients who continue to smoke also score substantially lower on measures of quality of life than those who have kicked the habit, according to the study published in the April issue of the journal General Hospital Psychiatry. "Despite the known risk of continued smoking in patients with head and neck cancer, over one-quarter of the head and neck cancer patients continued to smoke; most of them smoked more than half a pack per day," says lead author Sonia Duffy, Ph.D., R.N., of the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System and the University of Michigan. The American Cancer Society estimates that there were more than 30,000 new cases of head and neck cancers last year. Eighty-five percent of cases are associated with tobacco use, according to government statistics. The researchers recruited 81 non-terminal head and neck cancer patients, most of whom were white and male, from the VA and university hospital. They answered questionnaires on smoking, drinking and depression as well as quality of life. The study revealed that 23 percent of the patients were current smokers and 35 percent had smoked in the past six months. The study also found that nearly half of the patients (46 percent) continued to drink alcohol, although the combination of smoking and [...]