Employee & Community Health

Prevent lung cancer: Stop smoking

11/16/2017 by Jon Ebbert, MD

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In the United States, almost one-quarter of a million people are diagnosed with lung cancer each year. During that same period, more than 160,000 people will die from this disease. 

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer and is associated with more than 90% of all lung cancers. Despite advances in treatment, only 15% of all patients diagnosed with lung cancer will survive five years. 

The most effective way to prevent lung cancer is to stop smoking. Quitting smoking is difficult, but using a combination of medication and behavioral strategies can make it easier. 

Medications shown to be effective for helping you stop smoking are nicotine replacement therapy (patch, gum, lozenge, nasal spray, inhaler), bupropion (Wellbutrin, Zyban) and varenicline (CHANTIX®). Nicotine gum, lozenge and patch are available over-the-counter; buying nicotine nasal spray, nicotine inhaler, bupropion and varenicline requires a written prescription. 

Behavioral strategies that can help you quit smoking include: 

  • Picking a quit date
  • Engaging significant others and family members to support your attempt to quit
  • Removing all tobacco products from your environment
  • Understanding cues and triggers for smoking and developing strategies to address them

November is Lung Cancer Awareness month. Use this as an opportunity to stop smoking. Ask your clinician about medication and additional counseling that can be obtained through our Nicotine Dependence Center. Other resources and tools to help you quit are available on websites such as smokefree.gov

Jon Ebbert, MD, is a physician in Employee and Community Health's (ECH) Division of Primary Care Internal Medicine (PCIM). He also works with Mayo Clinic's Nicotine Dependence Center in Rochester.