Tobacco Users with Cancer

A cancer diagnosis is a heavy and stressful burden for anyone to carry. If you’re a tobacco user, you may feel like it’s too late to cut back or quit, or that it’s not the right time to take on such a challenge. The truth is, it’s never too late to cut back or quit. Cutting back or quitting altogether can help you better manage your treatment and recovery. That, in return, can help reduce stress and anxiety.

Cutting back or quitting can:

  • Help your treatment work better. Whether you’re scheduled to have surgery, radiation treatment or chemotherapy, quitting smoking will help.
  • Reduce the chance of your cancer coming back
  • Reduce the chance of developing another cancer

Radiation: Radiation therapy works better if the level of oxygen in your body is normal. When you smoke, the level of oxygen in your blood drops, making it harder for radiation to do its job. If you can’t stop smoking, avoid smoking before and after you have radiation therapy.

Chemotherapy: Chemo drugs work better in people who don’t smoke. Smoke contains chemicals that reduce the blood level of some chemotherapy drugs, making them less effective.

Surgery: Cutting back or quitting can make surgery safer and help you recover more quickly. Quitting any time is useful but if possible, try to quit at least 6 to 8 weeks before your operation.

People who don’t smoke:

  • Are less likely to have complications during or after their surgery
  • Are less likely to develop infections and more likely to heal quickly
  • May get better faster and go home sooner

Online Resources:

Quit Smoking: For people with cancer




This online learning module is meant for people with cancer and will take about 20 minutes to complete.

It will help you better understand:

  • How smoking can affect your health
  • How quitting smoking can help your cancer treatment
  • How you can quit smoking or smoke less

Note: You do not need to log in to view this module.

It’s never too late to make a change for the better. The best way to cut back or quit is through a combination of support and medication.