Quitting Alcohol and Tobacco Use After Cancer Diagnosis

OncoLink
Last Modified: May 7, 2012

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Question

My father was recently diagnosed with esophageal cancer and was told to quit smoking and drinking alcohol by his doctor. My father feels it won't make a difference at this point. What can I tell him to help him realize that quitting is important and why it is so important?

Answer

Christina Bach, Oncology Social Worker at Penn Medicine, responds:

I'm sure your dad is probably thinking "I've already got cancer so why bother quitting." However, studies have shown that many people do actually do better with treatment if they stop smoking and drinking. The bottom line is that smoking and drinking are risk factors for health problems and after a cancer diagnosis, why add insult to injury? Yes, quitting is a challenge but there are some great resources available to help the patient quit and to support this process as part of cancer treatment.

There are both pharmacological (drug) therapies and behavior therapies available...be sure to talk with your oncologist who will be happy to provide you with resources and support to help your dad quite smoking.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. View the entire transcript from the Focus on GI Cancers webchat.