Category Archives: Lung Cancer

Two out of 3 people diagnosed with cancer survive 5 years or more – CDC


A Norwegian study estimates that a many as 25 percent of cases of invasive breast cancers diagnosed by mammography screening are cases of overdiagnosis. (Photo/NCI)Two out of 3 people diagnosed with cancer survive five years or more, according to a study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published in today’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The report found that the most common cancer sites continue to be prostate, breast, lung, and colorectal cancer.

Among these common cancer sites 5-year relative survival was:

  • 97 percent for prostate cancer,
  • 88 percent for breast cancer,
  • 63 percent for colorectal cancer, and
  • 18 percent for lung cancer.

The authors noted that disparities in cancer incidence still persist, with greater rates among men than women and the highest rates among blacks.

Additionally, 5-year relative survival after any cancer diagnosis was lower for blacks (60 percent) than for whites (65 percent).

Data by state show incidence rates for all cancer sites ranged from 374 cases per 100,000 persons in New Mexico to 509 cases per 100,000 persons in the District of Columbia.

“These data are an important reminder that a key to surviving with cancer is making sure everyone has access to care from early diagnosis to treatment,” said Lisa Richardson, M.D., director of CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control.  “We know, for example, that early detection of colorectal cancer has had the largest impact on long-term survival rates.”’

Through the Affordable Care Act, more Americans will qualify to get health care coverage that fits their needs and budget, including important preventive services, including screening for some cancers, that may be covered with no additional costs.

Visit or call 1-800-318-2596 (TTY/TDD 1-855-889-4325) to learn more.

The full report, “Invasive Cancer Incidence and Survival – United States, 2011,” can be found at For more information about CDC’s efforts in cancer prevention and control, visit


How to protect your children from cancer – CDC


Cancer Prevention Starts in Childhood

Tips from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Photo of two parents and three children sitting outside

You can reduce your children’s risk of getting cancer later in life.

Start by helping them adopt a healthy lifestyle with good eating habits and plenty of exercise to keep a healthy weight.

Then follow the tips below to help prevent specific kinds of cancer. Continue reading


High-cost hepatitis C treatments hits big insurer


$100-dollar bill inside a capsuleBy Jay Hancock

UnitedHealth Group spent $100 million on hepatitis C drugs in the first three months of the year, much more than expected, the company said Thursday.

The news helped drive down the biggest insurance company’s stock and underscores the challenge for all health care payers in covering Sovaldi, an expensive new pill for hepatitis C.

“We’ve been surprised on the volume — the pent-up demand across all three businesses” — commercial insurance and private Medicare and Medicaid plans, said Daniel Schumacher, chief financial officer of UnitedHealth’s insurance wing. Continue reading


App lets you determine your neighborhood’s radon risk


Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 11.28.29From the Washington State Department of Health

Olympia, January 21, 2014 — Washington residents now have a new online map to check and see if their neighborhood has a geological risk for the cancer-causing gas, radon, using a new state app. The new app is offered by the state Department of Health’s Washington Tracking Network.

Some areas of the state, such as Spokane and Clark counties, are well-known for having higher levels of radon, but the new online map shows that there are some areas around the Puget Sound such as Pierce and King counties that might come as a surprise.  Continue reading


Seattle hookah bars violating laws banning public smoking, King County health officials say


Public Health – Seattle & King County has found that six Seattle hookah bars are violating the state’s law banning public smoking and ordered them to stop allowing smoking on their premises.

Here’s the announcement from Public Health – Seattle & King County

Six Seattle hookah bars receive order for violating public smoking law

Six hookah bars in Seattle are on notice for violating Washington’s Smoking in Public Places law. Public Health – Seattle & King County sent each of the establishments a Notice and Order on Tuesday, October 1, requiring them to stop allowing smoking.

To protect public health, state law requires that all places of employment and public places are smoke-free.

Health inspectors visited the hookah bars multiple times. They found patrons smoking and each of the bars operating as a public place and/or place of employment.

“Our investigation shows that these hookah bars are violating the law, and endangering the health of their workers and patrons. We are forced to take this enforcement action because they haven’t been responsive to our previous warnings,” said Dr. David Fleming, Director and Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “Secondhand smoke is a proven killer, and state law works to protect everyone from this health threat.”

Hookah bars have claimed that they are exempt from the indoor smoking law because they are private clubs. However, smoking is prohibited by law if a club has employees and/or the club is open to the public.

The investigation found that these six bars are all open to the public, operating similarly to night clubs that charge a cover for admission.

Each of the establishments received multiple warnings from inspectors, but they have not complied with Washington law. The Notice and Orders require immediate compliance plus payment of fines and fees.

The fine for each violation is $100, in addition to escalating re-inspection fees after the first warning. Subsequent violations will result in additional steps to ensure that state law is followed, including possible court action.

Hookah is a water pipe commonly used to smoke tobacco. Research shows that hookah smoking is at least as harmful as cigarette smoke, even when mixed with sweet fruit and candy flavors.

The establishments have ten days from receipt of the Notice and Order if they wish to appeal or 30 days to pay the fines and re-inspection fees.

Hookah bars receiving a Notice and Order this week include:


Lounge Address
Casablanca Shisha Lounge 1221 S Main St

Da Spot Hookah Lounge

1914 Minor Ave
Medina Hookah Lounge 700 S Dearborn St
The Night Owl 4745 University Way NE
Sahara Hookah Lounge 7523 Lake City Way NE
Seattle Hookah Lounge 4701 Roosevelt Way NE


Hookah health threat

Tobacco use remains the number one cause of preventable death and disease in King County, costing nearly 2,000 lives and $343 million dollars in health costs and lost wages locally every year.

  • Tobacco is placed inside the bowl at the top of the hookah.

    Tobacco is placed inside the bowl at the top of the hookah.

    Hookah is a water-pipe commonly used to smoke tobacco, often mixed with sweet fruit and candy flavors.

  • Research shows that hookah smoking is not a safe alternative to cigarettes and that hookah smoke is at least as harmful as cigarette smoke.
  • During a typical 45-minute session of hookah use, a person may inhale as much smoke as smoking 100 cigarettes or more.
  • Hookah smoke contains the addictive drug nicotine, along with tar, carcinogens, and heavy metals.
  • Hookah smoking has been associated with lung cancer, oral cancer, heart disease, respiratory illness, periodontal disease, and low birthweight.
  • Sharing a hookah mouthpiece can transmit infectious diseases, including tuberculosis.

Hookah and youth

Hookah use has seen a rise in popularity, especially among youth. According to the 2012 Healthy Youth Survey, hookah use among King County high school seniors is higher than cigarette use (15% and 12%, respectively).

‘We are very concerned about the high hookah use rates among youth,” said Scott Neal, Tobacco Prevention Program Manager for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “Sweet fruit and candy flavors lure youth and help fuel the misperception that hookah smoking is safer than cigarettes.”

Report smoking law violations

To report violations, visit the Tobacco Prevention Program page for an online form; or text the establishment’s name, date of violation, and brief description of the violation to  206-745-2548.



Should smokers have to pay more for health insurance?


Cigarette thumbBy Martha Bebinger, WBUR

You’ve heard all the campaigns and statistics: Smoking Kills. It’s the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. And it’s expensive.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says smoking costs the country $193 billion a year in lost productivity and health care spending. Add another $10 billion for secondhand smoking expenses.

That’s why the federal Affordable Care Act permits insurers to charge smokers up to 50 percent more for coverage than non-smokers.

So, says Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, why not ask smokers to pay more for health insurance?

“If we’re ever going to control costs, we’ve got to make sure that we don’t over-socialize the system,” Hurst says. ”In other words, we don’t make people pay too much for somebody else’s health care costs.”

Fifty percent more for smokers might be too much, continues Hurst, “but let’s not dismiss outright, the ability for employers to try to incent people to get healthier.”

The debate about whether smokers should pay more for health insurance has created unusual alliances. Tobacco companies are working alongside cancer societies and consumer groups to persuade states they should reject higher charges for smokers.

“First of all there is very little evidence that financial incentives or disincentives through premiums change behavior,” says Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, executive director at Health Care for All, a Massachusetts group that advocates for affordable health care access.

Health Care for All and the group’s allies in the public health world routinely support higher taxes for smokers. But Whitcomb Slemmer says higher insurance premiums could lead many smokers to drop their coverage.

“We were concerned that more would pay the penalty to not be insured,” Whitcomb Slemmer continues. “And, specifically, we’d be concerned that they (smokers) wouldn’t have access to what has been demonstrated to be very effective smoking cessation programming.”

In Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia, this public health perspective has won the debate, for now. Insurers will not be allowed to add a surcharge for smokers. California is moving in the same direction.

But aides to Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick says he’s open to allowing the surcharge in the future — if insurers find accurate ways to determine who smokes and who doesn’t.

The largest insurers in the Bay State are mostly on the sidelines in this controversy. Here’s one reason why: They’ve had the option of hiking premiums for smokers since the state passed its landmark health care act in 2006, and they haven’t done it.

“We try to moderate premiums for the entire market, not seek to target particular populations or individuals because of certain behaviors,” says Eric Linzer, senior vice president at the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans.

The Massachusetts legislature will likely need to amend state law so that a ban on higher charges for smokers takes effect.

And just to make things a little more complicated — it won’t apply to everyone. Large employers, who are self-insured and follow federal insurance rules, will be able to target smokers, if they choose.

This story is part of a partnership that includes WBURNPR and Kaiser Health News. 

This article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.


CDC’s new antismoking campaign: Tips from Former Smokers


This week the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launches a new ad campaign featuring the stories of former smokers living with smoking-related diseases and disabilities.

“Tips from Former Smokers” ads will run for at least 12 weeks on television, radio, and billboards, online, and in theaters, magazines, and newspapers nationwide.

The education campaign seeks to provide motivation, information, and quit help to those who want it, CDC officials said.

  • The ads feature smoking-related health conditions— including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, more severe adult asthma, and complications from diabetes, such as blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, and amputation—and candidly describe the losses from smoking and the gains from quitting
  • Despite the known dangers of tobacco use, nearly one in five adults in the United States still smoke.  Almost 90 percent of smokers started before they were 18, and many of them experience life-changing health effects at a relatively early age. Smoking harms nearly every organ in the body.
  • More than 440,000 Americans each year lose their lives to smoking-related diseases, and for every one death 20 more continue living with one or more serious illnesses from smoking.  Nearly 70 percent of smokers say they want to quit.

For more information on the campaign, including profiles of the former smokers, links to the ads, and free quit help, visit

Illustration of the lungs in blue

Understanding and preventing lung cancer – from MedlinePlus magazine


From MedlinePlus magazine

What is Lung Cancer

Lung cancer forms in tissues of the lung, usually in the cells lining air passages. The two main types are small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. These types are diagnosed based on how the cells look under a microscope.

  • Small cell: The cells of small cell lung cancer look small under a microscope. About 1 of every 8 people with lung cancer has small cell lung cancer.
  • Non-small cell: The cells of non-small cell lung cancer are larger than the cells of small cell lung cancer. Most (about 7 of every 8) people diagnosed with lung cancer have non-small cell lung cancer. It doesn’t grow and spread as fast as small cell lung cancer, and it’s treated differently.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women. Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in the United States, after skin cancer. The number of new cases and deaths from lung cancer is highest in black men.


Risk Factors

Smoking is the main cause of lung cancer, especially non-small cell lung cancer. Exposure to secondhand smoke and environmental exposures, such as radon and workplace toxins, also increase your risk.

The earlier in life a person starts smoking, the more often a person smokes, and the more years a person smokes, the greater the risk of lung cancer. If a person has stopped smoking, the risk becomes lower as the years pass.

When smoking is combined with other risk factors—such as secondhand smoke, asbestos and arsenic exposure, and air pollution—the risk of lung cancer is increased. A family history of cancer can also be a risk factor for lung cancer.

Dusty Donaldson

Lung cancer survivor Dusty Donaldson helps to spread the word about the importance of screening and early detection.
Photo: Courtesy Dusty Donaldson

In 2005, Dusty Donaldson experienced tenderness and pain in her neck that didn’t go away over several months. When her doctor couldn’t detect any physical cause, and the pain continued, Donaldson decided more had to be done. “The pain was persistent, and so was I.”

Today, she’s thankful for her persistence. Ultrasound and CT scans found something suspicious in her right lung. That turned out to be a five-centimeter cancerous tumor between the upper and middle lobes of her lungs. It was an early-stage cancer and had not spread to other parts of her lungs or her body.

Donaldson, who had quit smoking 26 years before her diagnosis, had not even considered that she might have lung cancer.

“I was really surprised at the time to find out that lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer deaths in men and women. More people die from lung cancer than from all the others combined,” Donaldson says. “Lung cancer death rates are the equivalent of a 747 jumbo jet crashing to the ground every single day.”

Surgeons removed almost two-thirds of her lung and treated her with chemotherapy for three months. Today, she remains cancer free and has made a commitment to help others understand lung cancer and the need for early detection.

Donaldson volunteers with the nonprofit LUNGevity Foundation to help the organization educate the public about lung cancer.

“I’m compelled to find others and share with them information regarding screening,” she says. “Early detection is key to survivorship,” she adds. “There’s not a single soul on this earth who doesn’t need to know about lung cancer. People who don’t know they are at risk, need to know that there are other risk factors—genetics, radon, and other things that can cause lung cancer.”

“If I could tell the world one thing about lung cancer, it’s that anyone can get it and no one deserves it.”
—Dusty Donaldson, 58, High Point, NC.

The 2011 National Cancer Institute’s National Lung Screening Trial showed the importance of detecting lung cancer early. The trial also showed for the first time an effective screening approach for a high-risk population.

“Now thanks to the National Lung Screening Trial, we know screening can be more effective than anything else,” says Donaldson. “People who are at great risk don’t have to consider themselves doomed to lung cancer. They can have early detection, get treated early, and hopefully live a long and healthy life.”


Lung Cancer

Chest x-ray showing lung cancer.

X-ray of the chest. X-rays are used to take pictures of organs and bones of the chest. X-rays pass through the patient onto film.

Possible signs of non-small cell lung cancer include a cough that doesn’t go away and shortness of breath. Check with your doctor or other health professional if you have any of the following problems:

  • Chest discomfort or pain.
  • A cough that doesn’t go away or gets worse over time.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Wheezing.
  • Blood in sputum (mucus coughed up from the lungs).
  • Hoarseness.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Weight loss for no known reason.
  • Feeling very tired.
  • Trouble swallowing.
  • Swelling in the face and/or veins in the neck.


Tests that examine the lungs are used to detect (find), diagnose, and stage non-small cell lung cancer. Tests and procedures to detect, diagnose, and stage non-small cell lung cancer are often done at the same time. Some of the following tests and procedures may be used:

  • Physical exam and history: An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the patient’s health habits, including smoking, and past jobs, illnesses, and treatments will also be taken.
  • Laboratory tests: Medical procedures that test samples of tissue, blood, urine, or other substances in the body. These tests help to diagnose disease, plan and check treatment, or monitor the disease over time.
  • Chest X-ray: An X-ray of the organs and bones inside the chest. An X-ray is a type of energy beam that can go through the body, making a picture of areas inside the body.
  • CT scan (CAT scan): A procedure that makes a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, such as the chest, taken from different angles. The pictures are made by a computer linked to an X-ray machine. A dye may be injected into a vein or swallowed to help the organs or tissues show up more clearly. This procedure is also called computed tomography, computerized tomography, or computerized axial tomography.
  • Lung biopsy. The patient lies on a table that slides through the computed tomography (CT) machine, which takes X-ray pictures of the inside of the body. The X-ray pictures help the doctor see where the abnormal tissue is in the lung. A biopsy needle is inserted through the chest wall and into the area of abnormal lung tissue. A small piece of tissue is removed through the needle and checked under the microscope for signs of cancer.
  • Bronchoscopy: A procedure to look inside the trachea and large airways in the lung for abnormal areas. A bronchoscope is inserted through the nose or mouth into the trachea and lungs. A bronchoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove tissue samples, which are checked under a microscope for signs of cancer.


Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.

  • The stage of the cancer (the size of the tumor and whether it is in the lung only or has spread to other places in the body).
  • The type of lung cancer.
  • Whether there are symptoms such as coughing or trouble breathing.
  • The patient’s general health.

For patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer, current treatments do not cure the cancer. The treatment that’s right for you depends mainly on the type and stage of lung cancer. You may receive more than one type of treatment.


Surgery may be an option for people with early-stage lung cancer. The surgeon usually removes only the part of the lung that contains cancer. Most people who have surgery for lung cancer will have the lobe of the lung that contains the cancer removed. This is a lobectomy. In some cases, the surgeon will remove the tumor along with less tissue than an entire lobe, or the surgeon will remove the entire lung. The surgeon also removes nearby lymph nodes.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is an option for people with any stage of lung cancer:

  • People with early lung cancer may choose radiation therapy instead of surgery.
  • After surgery, radiation therapy can be used to destroy any cancer cells that may remain in the chest.
  • In advanced lung cancer, radiation therapy may be used with chemotherapy.

The NCI booklet Radiation Therapy and You ( has helpful ideas for coping with radiation therapy side effects.


Chemotherapy may be used alone, with radiation therapy, or after surgery.

Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. The drugs for lung cancer are usually given directly into a vein (intravenously) through a thin needle. Newer chemotherapy methods, called targeted treatments, are often given as a pill that is swallowed.

You’ll probably receive chemotherapy in a clinic or at the doctor’s office. People rarely need to stay in the hospital during treatment.

The side effects depend mainly on which drugs are given and how much. Chemotherapy kills fast-growing cancer cells, but the drugs can also harm normal cells that divide rapidly:

  • When drugs lower the levels of healthy blood cells, you’re more likely to get infections, bruise or bleed easily, and feel very weak and tired.
  • Chemotherapy may cause hair loss. If you lose your hair, it will grow back after treatment, but the color and texture may be changed.
  • Chemotherapy can cause a poor appetite, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, or mouth and lip sores. Your healthcare team can give you medicines and suggest other ways to help with these problems.

The NCI booklet Chemotherapy and You ( has helpful ideas for coping with chemotherapy side effects.

Targeted Therapy

People with non-small cell lung cancer that has spread may receive a type of treatment called targeted therapy. Several kinds of targeted therapy are used for non-small cell lung cancer. One kind is used only if a lab test on the cancer tissue shows a certain gene change. Targeted therapies can block the growth and spread of lung cancer cells.

Depending on the kind of drug used, targeted therapies for lung cancer are given intravenously or by mouth.

Lung Cancer Research

  • The large-scale National Lung Screening Trial, supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), has shown that screening current or former heavy smokers with low-dose helical computed tomography (CT) decreases the risk of dying from lung cancer. That finding was only for heavy smokers.
  • Another recent study showed that low-dose nicotine does not enhance lung cancer development. This suggests that nicotine replacement therapy is safe for former smokers.
  • Results of a 2011 research trial revealed that annual chest X-ray screening of people ages 55 to 74 years does not reduce lung cancer deaths compared with usual care.
  • Researchers have identified genetic regions that predispose Asian women who’ve never smoked to lung cancer. The finding provides evidence that lung cancer between smokers and never-smokers can differ on a fundamental level.


  • What type of lung cancer do I have?
  • Has the cancer spread from the lung? If so, to where?
  • May I have a copy of test results?


  • What kind of surgery do you suggest for me?
  • How will I feel after surgery?
  • If I have pain, how can we control it?
  • How long will I be in the hospital?
  • Will I have any lasting side effects?
  • When can I get back to my normal activities?

Radiation Therapy

  • When will treatment start? When will it end? How often will I have treatments?
  • How will I feel during treatment? Will I be able to drive myself to and from treatment?
  • What can I do to take care of myself before, during, and after treatment?
  • How will we know the treatment is working?
  • What side effects should I expect? What should I tell you about?
  • Are there any lasting effects?

Chemotherapy or Targeted Therapy

  • Which drug or drugs do you suggest for me? What will they do?
  • What are the possible side effects? What can we do about them?
  • When will treatment start? When will it end? How often will I have treatments?
  • How will we know the treatment is working?
  • Will there be lasting side effects?

To Find Out More

  • Be Tobacco Free: brings together information on the health effects of tobacco, quitting smoking, and more.
  • The What You Need To Know About Lung Cancer booklet ( provides information about lung cancer diagnosis, staging, treatment, and comfort care. Information specialists also can answer questions about cancer at 1-800-4-CANCER.
  • The NCI Lung Cancer Home Page provides up-to-date information on lung cancer treatment, prevention, genetics, causes, screening, testing, and related topics. (
  • Information on treatment options for non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer is available from PDQ, NCI’s comprehensive cancer database. (
  • Clinical trials for non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer can be found in NCI’s list of clinical trials. (

Because most people who get lung cancer were smokers, you may feel that doctors and other people assume that you are or were a smoker (even if you aren’t or weren’t). Whether or not you were a smoker, it’s important for you to protect your body now from smoke. Avoid secondhand smoke from smokers near you.

If you smoke, talk with an expert about quitting. It’s never too late to quit. Quitting can help cancer treatments work better. It may also reduce the chance of getting another cancer.

To get help with quitting smoking…

  • Call NCI’s Smoking Quitline at 1-877-44U-QUIT (1-877-448-7848).
  • Sign up for the free mobile service SmokefreeTXT to get tips and encouragement to quit. To sign up, text the word QUIT to IQUIT (47848) from your mobile phone. Or, go to


Hutch seeks smokers to test quit-smoking app


Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is seeking smokers to test a quit-smoking iPhone app.

Here’s the announcement from the Hutch:


Participants in the free Smart Quit study will receive tools to help them quit – and stay quit

Adults who’ve smoked daily for at least the past year who want to quit within the next 30 days are needed for a study of a quit-smoking iPhone app being conducted by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in collaboration with the University of Washington and 2Morrow Mobile.

Led by Jonathan Bricker, Ph.D., a psychologist based in the Public Health Sciences Division at Fred Hutch, the Smart Quit study will randomly assign participants to one of two iPhone application quit-smoking programs. The goal of the study is to learn which of the two programs is the most useful for people who are quitting smoking.

“This is the first-ever study of any smartphone app for quitting smoking,” said Bricker, an associate member of the Fred Hutch Public Health Sciences Division. “Smartphones are a potentially revolutionary quit-smoking tool because you can carry that support with you anywhere.”

Participants randomly assigned to either program will receive:

  • Interactive tools for dealing more effectively with urges to smoke
  • A step-by-step guide for quitting smoking
  • Personalized plans for quitting and staying quit

Both programs are free. Participants will be asked to complete online questionnaires, including one brief follow-up survey during the next two months. They will receive $25 after completing the two-month follow-up survey. Eligibility criteria include:

  • being age 18 or older
  • having smoked at least five cigarettes daily for at least the past 12 months
  • wanting to quit in the next 30 days
  • being interested in learning skills to quit smoking

Bricker and colleagues gratefully acknowledge that support for this work was provided by the Hartwell Innovation Fund.

For more information about the Smart Quit iPhone study, please visit or email

# # #


Quit Smoking Tips from


Cigarette thumb

Quitting smoking is one of the most important things you can do for your health. The sooner you quit, the sooner your body can begin to heal. You will feel better and have more energy to be active with your family and friends.

Take Action!

Follow these steps to quit:

  1. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) for free support and to set up your quit plan.
  2. Talk with your doctor about medicines to help you quit.
  3. Set a quit date within the next 2 weeks.
  4. Make small changes, like:
    • Throw away ashtrays in your home, car, and office so you aren’t tempted to smoke.
    • Make your home and car smoke-free.
    • If you have friends who smoke, ask them not to smoke around you.
  5. Plan for how you will handle challenges like cravings.

Here are some more tips to help you quit.

Write down your reasons to quit.

Make a list of all the reasons you want to quit. For example, your reasons to quit might be to set a healthy example for your kids and to save money. Keep the list with you to remind yourself why quitting is worth it.

Change your routine.

Changing your routine can help you break the smoking habit.

  • Try taking a different route to work.
  • For the first few weeks, avoid activities and places you connect with smoking.
  • Do things and go places where smoking isn’t allowed.
  • Make getting active and eating healthy part of your quit plan. Go for walks and try different foods.

Quitting may be hard, so prepare yourself. 

Remember, the urge to smoke will come and go. Here are some ways to manage cravings:

  • Do something else with your hands, like washing them, taking a shower, or washing the dishes. Try doing crossword or other puzzles.
  • Have healthy snacks ready, like carrots, nuts, apples, or sugar-free gum.
  • Distract yourself with a new activity.
  • If you used to smoke while driving, try something new. Take public transportation or ride with a friend.
  • Take several deep breaths to help you relax.

Take this withdrawal quiz every day to see your progress.

Break the connection between eating and smoking. 
Many people like to smoke when they finish a meal. Here are some ways to break the connection:

  • Get up from the table as soon as you are done eating.
  • Brush your teeth and think about the fresh, clean feeling in your mouth.
  • Try going for a walk after meals.

Deal with stress.

Manage stress by creating peaceful times in your daily schedule. Try relaxation methods like deep breathing or lighting candles.

Check out these tips on dealing with stress as you quit.

Stick with it.

When you stop smoking, you may feel:

  • Irritable
  • Anxious
  • Hungry

You may even have trouble sleeping.

Don’t give up! It takes time to overcome addiction. Check out these tips on staying quit.

Learn from the past. 

Many people try to quit more than once before they succeed. Most people who start smoking again do so within the first 3 months after quitting. If you’ve tried to quit before, think about what worked for you and what didn’t.

Drinking alcohol, depression, and being around other smokers can make it harder to quit. If you are finding it hard to stay quit, talk with your doctor about what medicines might help you. Remember, quitting will make you healthier.

If you’ve tried to quit before, check out this booklet about how to commit to quitting again [PDF – 797 KB].

If you want help, talk with your doctor.

A doctor or nurse may be able to help you quit smoking. The doctor can help you choose the strategies that are likely to work best for you. She can also tell you about medicines to help make quitting easier.

Get more information about the different types of medicines that can help you quit.

What about cost?

You can get free help with quitting by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or by visiting

Also, some services to help people quit smoking are covered under the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010. Depending on your insurance plan, you may be able to get these services at no cost to you.

Check with your insurance provider to find out what’s included in your plan. For information about other services covered by the Affordable Care Act, visit


Make good on your resolution to quit smoking


Cigarette thumbBy Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D.

For people who smoke cigarettes, the New Year is a popular time to try to quit.

And it’s no wonder why.

Tobacco use kills about 443,000 people in the United States each year or about 1 in 5 deaths annually. It is the Number One cause of preventable deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health and for the health of your loved ones. Within just 12 hours of your last cigarette, the carbon monoxide levels in your blood return to normal.

Within 1 year of quitting, the excess risk of heart disease is half that of a person who continues to smoke, according to the U.S. Surgeon General.

Quitting smoking helps protect the health of people around you, especially babies and children. Secondhand smoke has more than 50 chemicals that are known to cause cancer in adults.

It can also cause lung disease and heart disease in people who have never smoked. Parents who quit smoking provide a great role model to their children and teens.

Within 1 year of quitting, the excess risk of heart disease is half that of a person who continues to smoke.

And contrary to what some people say, smokeless tobacco isn’t a safe option.  It includes chewing tobacco, dip, and snuff.  It causes cancer of the esophagus, mouth, and pancreas.

Like many New Year’s resolutions, deciding to change a behavior isn’t as easy as actually doing it. In fact, many smokers or tobacco users try to quit several times before they succeed.

How can you follow through on your plan to stop smoking for good in 2013?

A great place to start is The new, comprehensive Web site gives one-stop access to the latest information from the Federal government on tobacco-related information, including evidence-based methods on how to quit.

The Web site includes interactive features, mobile apps, and tools and resources designed specifically for parents, educators, and teens.

For example, people who are getting ready to quit smoking now will find resources and tools to help them.

You can START the process by—

  • S = Setting a quit date. Pick a date within the next 2 weeks. That gives you enough time to get ready, but not so much time that you lose your determination.
  • T = Telling others about your plan to quit. Quitting is easier to do with support from others. Tell family, friends, and co-workers how they can help you.
  • A = Anticipating the challenges you will face. Most people who return to smoking do it within the first 3 months. Be prepared for situations when you will be tempted to smoke and plan for how you will deal with them.
  • R = Removing cigarettes from your home, car, and work. Getting rid of things that remind you of smoking will help you get ready to quit. Clean your car, get rid of lighters and ashtrays, and have your teeth cleaned to get rid of smoking stains.
  • T = Talking to your doctor about getting help to quit. Some people need help to manage the withdrawal from nicotine. Ask your health care provider if a medicine might help you. You can buy some of these medicines on your own, like the nicotine patch or nicotine gum. Others require a prescription.

Another section of the Web site called SmokefreeTeen helps teenagers recognize the pressures they face and how they typically handle them, including whether to start or stop smoking.

Using interactive quizzes, SmokefreeTeen looks at important topics such as depression, stress, and relationships. Answers can help teens understand their behavior style and the role that smoking, or trying to quit, may plan in it.

Another feature for teens is a mobile service called SmokefreeTXT. The service sends text messages with advice and tips on how to stop smoking for good.

Quitting smoking is one of the best New Year’s resolutions you can make to protect your health. The BeTobaccoFree Web site can help you turn your wish into reality.

I’m Dr. Carolyn Clancy, and that’s my advice on how to navigate the health care system.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 
Fact Sheet: Fast Fact—Smoking and Tobacco Use

U.S. 2010 Surgeon General’s Report—Smoking and Tobacco Use

Quit Now:

Smokeless Tobacco and Your Health


SmokefreeTeen: SmokefreeTXT

Current as of January 2013

Internet Citation:

Make Good on Your Resolution To Quit Smoking. Navigating the Health Care System: Advice Columns from Dr. Carolyn Clancy, January 8, 2013. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


U.S. cancer deaths continue long-term decline


By Bill Robinson
NCI Cancer Bulletin

According to the latest national data, overall death rates from cancer declined from 2000 through 2009 in the United States, maintaining a trend seen since the early 1990s.


Mortality fell for most cancer types, including the four most common types of cancer in the United States (lungcolon and rectumbreast, and prostate), although the trend varied by cancer type and across racial and ethnic groups.

The complete “Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975–2009” appeared January 7 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The report also includes a special section on cancers associated with the human papillomavirus (HPV) that shows that, from 2008 through 2010, incidence rates rose for HPV-associated oropharyngealanal, and vulvar cancers.

HPV vaccination rates in 2010 remained low among the target population of adolescent girls in the United States.

As in past years, NCI, the American Cancer Society (ACS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR) collaborated on the annual report.

Cancer incidence data came from NCI’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database and the CDC, with analyses of pooled data by NAACCR. Mortality data came from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

Incidence Rates Vary, Death Rates Continue to Drop

Among men, the overall rate of cancer incidence fell by an average of 0.6 percent annually from 2000 through 2009. Cancer incidence rates were stable among women during the same time period and rose by 0.6 percent per year among children. (See the table.)

“The continuing drop in cancer mortality over the past two decades is reason to cheer . . . The challenge we now face is how to continue those gains in the face of new obstacles, like obesity and HPV infections.”

The declines in cancer mortality averaged 1.8 percent per year for men, 1.4 percent per year for women, and 1.8 percent for children (ages 0 to 14 years) from 2000 through 2009.

During the same period, death rates among men fell for 10 of the 17 most common cancers and rose for three types of cancer. Death rates among women fell for 15 of the 18 most common cancers and also rose for three types of cancer.

“The continuing drop in cancer mortality over the past two decades is reason to cheer,” said ACS Chief Executive Officer Dr. John R. Seffrin in a statement. “The challenge we now face is how to continue those gains in the face of new obstacles, like obesity and HPV infections. We must face these hurdles head on, without distraction, and without delay, by expanding access to proven strategies to prevent and control cancer.”

HPV Vaccination Rates Low

The special section on HPV-related cancers showed that from 2000 through 2009, incidence rates for HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancer increased among white men and women, as did rates for anal cancer among white and black men and women. Incidence rates for cancer of the vulva also increased among white and black women.

However, cervical cancer rates declined among all women except American Indian/Alaska Natives. In addition, cervical cancer incidence rates were higher among women living in lower-income areas.

The annual report also showed that, in 2010, fewer than half (48.7 percent) of girls ages 13 through 17 had received at least one dose of the HPV vaccine, and only 32 percent had received all three recommended doses, a rate that fell well short of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2020 target of 80 percent.

The rate is also much lower than vaccination rates reported in Canada (50 to 85 percent) and the United Kingdom and Australia (both higher than 70 percent).

Vaccination series completion rates were generally lower among certain populations, including girls living in the South, those living below the poverty level, and Hispanics.

“The influence that certain viral infections can have on cancer rates is significant and continued attention to the effect[s] of HPV infection, in particular, on cervical cancer rates is critical,” said NCI Director Dr. Harold Varmus in a statement. “It is important, however, to note that the investments we have made in HPV research can only have the tremendous payoff of which they are capable if vaccination rates … increase.”

Cancer Incidence and Mortality Rates, 2000–2009

Men Women
Incidence Increase

  • kidney
  • pancreas
  • liver
  • thyroid
  • melanoma
  • myeloma


  • prostate
  • lung
  • colorectal
  • stomach
  • larynx

  • thyroid
  • melanoma
  • kidney
  • pancreas
  • leukemia
  • liver
  • corpus and uterus


  • lung
  • colorectal
  • bladder
  • cervix
  • oral cavity and pharynx
  • ovary
  • stomach
Mortality Increase

  • melanoma
  • liver
  • pancreas


  • lung
  • prostate
  • colon and rectum
  • non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • kidney
  • stomach
  • myeloma
  • oral cavity and pharynx
  • larynx
  • leukemia

  • pancreas
  • liver
  • corpus and uterus


  • lung
  • breast
  • colon and rectum
  • leukemia
  • non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • brain and other nervous system
  • myeloma
  • kidney
  • stomach
  • cervix
  • bladder
  • esophagus
  • oral cavity and pharynx
  • ovary
  • gallbladder

The NCI Cancer Bulletin is an award-winning biweekly online newsletter designed to provide useful, timely information about cancer research to the cancer community. The newsletter is published approximately 24 times per year by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), with day-to-day operational oversight conducted by federal and contract staff in the NCI Office of Communications and Education. The material is entirely in the public domain and can be repurposed or reproduced without permission. Citation of the source is appreciated.

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