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Cancer Surgery Outcomes Improved When Smokers Abstain

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Smokers who abstain for 4 to 8 weeks prior to having surgery for mouth or throat cancers experienced improved wound healing, and those who quit for good reduced the odds of having their cancer recur, Reuters reported June 18.

On the other hand, a research review by Richard O. Wein of Tufts Medical Center found that 40 percent of patients who continued to smoke had a cancer recurrence or developed a second malignancy.

Wein noted that many patients diagnosed with throat or mouth cancer don't have a long window for quitting smoking since surgery usually is performed quickly. However, he said, “In these scenarios, although the impact of short-term (less than 2 weeks) preoperative smoking cessation on the immediate postoperative course may be modest, the long-term cardiopulmonary benefits and the potential decrease in the development of future smoking-related (malignancies) with sustained cessation are undeniable.”

The findings were published in the June 2009 issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery.

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