It is never too late to stop smoking, even if you have been told you have cancer. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do to help your cancer treatment. Whether you are scheduled to have surgery, radiation or chemotherapy, quitting smoking will help you.

Smokingbrochure Eng Page 1
Learn more about the benefits of quitting smoking (opens as PDF)

When you quit smoking some benefits are immediate, such as:

  • Blood pressure and heart rate return to normal within 20 minutes
  • 8 hours after your last cigarette your carbon monoxide levels in your blood drop, your blood oxygen improves and breathing is easier
  • Risk of heart attack drops within 24 hours of quitting and your lungs will start to clear out mucus
  • Within 48 hours your sense of smell and taste improve, so you will probably start to enjoy food more
  • Energy levels start to improve three days after stopping smoking
  • Improved immune response

Quitting smoking leads to:

  • Improved treatment outcomes
  • Reduced side effects
  • Decreased risk of infection
  • Improved breathing and increased energy
  • Improved quality of life

Continued tobacco use after a cancer diagnosis leads to:

  • Higher rates of complications from surgery, and slower recovery
  • Higher treatment related toxicity from chemotherapy and radiation therapy
  • Increased risk of cancer recurrence
  • Increased risk of heart and lung disease
  • Reduced treatment effectiveness
  • Increased risk of a second cancer
  • Shorter survival

Results from the 2014 Surgeon General’s report include:

  • In cancer patients and survivors quitting smoking improves health outcomes
  • Smoking increases the risk for recurrence, poorer response to treatment, and increased treatment related toxicity

Evidence suggests that the risk of dying can be lowered 30-40% by quitting smoking at the time of a cancer diagnosis. For some cancer diagnosis the benefits of quitting smoking may be equal to cancer treatments. (Toll et al 2013)

Learn how quitting smoking can improve your cancer treatments

Quit smoking resources

Quitting smoking during your cancer experience is a very difficult time, however it is a very important time to quit smoking. Smoking during cancer treatment can lead to less effective treatment and more severe side effects from the treatment. This is because of chemicals in the smoke, not the nicotine. If you are receiving care at Grand River Regional Cancer Centre and would like support to reduce or stop smoking you can:

  • Speak to your health care provider about quitting smoking;
  • Call a quit coach at Smokers’ Helpline at 1-877-513-5533 or visit (opens in new window)

There are also some options in the community that provide support:

  • STOP on the Road Workshops at Public Health Units
    STOP on the Road is an exciting initiative which brings smoking cessation treatment directly to Ontario smokers in their communities in partnership with public health units. Workshop participants attend a three hour workshop where they receive a group psycho-education presentation and a cost-free five week kit of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) patches to support their quit attempt.
  • STOP with Family Health Teams
    Family Health Teams (FHTs) participating in the STOP with FHTs Program are provided with up to 24 weeks free Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) for enrolled patients.
  • Leave the pack behind
    Leave The Pack Behind (LTPB) is a government funded tobacco control program that offers young adults, age 18-29 smoking and quitting information, personalized support, and quitting resources with up to eight weeks of free nicotine patches or gum.

You can quit smoking!

It's never too late to quit smoking!