Side Effects of Smoking and Drinking during Treatment

Last Modified: June 8, 2012

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The doctor said my husband has to stop smoking and drinking or it could make his side effects worse. Is this true? If so, how do I get a guy who has smoked for over 25 years and also drinks alcohol to quit?

Is it true that smoking can increase the side effects of cancer treatment?


Alexander Lin, MD, Radiation Oncologist at Penn Medicine, responds:

Quitting smoking is one of the most critical steps a patient should take in their therapy. Smoking during treatment can compromise the ultimate success of therapy (it has been shown that those who smoke during treatment have a lower cure rate compared to those who don't smoke during treatment). Additionally, those who continue to smoke are at a higher risk of developing another cancer in the future.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. View the entire Head and Neck Cancer Q&A Webchat transcript.

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