Is it ok to smoke when you are going through chemo?

Fuhrman asked...

Is it ok to smoke when you are going through chemo?

Expert Answer

Bruce A. Feinberg, MD, chief of the Georgia Cancer Specialists, is an oncologist and the author of Breast Cancer Answers and Colon Cancer Answers and a popular speaker on cancer-related topics.

It's much better to quit smoking if you possibly can. It's certainly a stressful time when you've been diagnosed with cancer, and some patients argue that they need to smoke to cope with the stress. But I tell my patients that there are many new therapies that make it easier to quit smoking, among them one called Chantix that's been very successful. And there are many reasons to quit smoking, both for your general health and to improve the odds that your cancer treatment will be successful. Will quitting smoking cure the cancer ? No, it won't. Will it prevent complications from arising during cancer treatment?Yes, it could, because smoking increases the risks of respiratory infection and other problems arising during treatement.


It's also possible that smoking can interfere with the action of chemotherapy treatment. We have very limited data on how the chemical constituents in tobacco interact with the drug metabolism, and smoking could increase the action of some drugs and decrease the action of others.


The goal of treatment is to cure the cancer so you have a healthy future, and quitting smoking is part of that goal.