By Mary Elizabeth Dallas
THURSDAY, July 23, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Cancer survivors who continue to smoke view the habit as less risky than survivors who quit, and they're more likely to spend time with smokers, a new study shows.
Not smoking is particularly important for people with cancer. These survey findings could improve strategies to help cancer survivors conquer their addiction, the researchers suggested.
Doctors may want to encourage the relatives of cancer survivors to quit smoking to reduce their cigarette exposure and improve their odds of quitting successfully, the researchers said.
"The association between smoking and exposure to others' smoke was particularly eye-opening," said study leader Lee Westmaas, of the cancer society's behavioral research center.
"Being around other smokers may be a major reason why cancer survivors are smoking and should be something that is addressed in recommending treatments for helping cancer patients quit," Westmaas said in a cancer society news release.
Smokers diagnosed with related cancers, such as lung, head or neck cancer, may quit initially but relapse later on, the researchers said. Those treated for other forms of cancer may not be aware of the connection between smoking and their disease or might not receive counseling to help them snuff the habit for good.
The researchers investigated attitudes about smoking among more than 2,900 participants in a nationwide study of adult cancer survivors. They were treated for 10 commonly diagnosed cancers and interviewed about nine years after diagnosis.
The study revealed the current smokers thought the health issues associated with tobacco use were less serious than did people who quit before they developed cancer or after it was diagnosed. The survivors who smoked also downplayed potential health benefits of not smoking, and were routinely exposed to other smokers, according to the study published online recently in Psycho-Oncology.
However, the perceived risks of smoking were greater among the smokers who expressed interest in quitting than those who didn't. These cancer survivors also associated fewer benefits with smoking and didn't smoke on a daily basis. They also felt more certain they could successfully kick the habit, the researchers found.