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Despite their increased risk for chronic health conditions and premature death, many cancer survivors continue to smoke after their diagnosis. Young survivors (those younger than age 40) may be at particular risk for smoking. To enhance the length and health-related quality of their lives, efforts are needed to identify these individuals and provide them with evidence-based interventions to help them quit smoking and remain tobacco free.
As the population of cancer survivors increases and their expected time of survival lengthens, the health behaviors of these individuals is becoming an important focus of attention. Adoption or maintenance of healthy lifestyles after cancer has the potential to reduce both cancer- and non-cancer-related morbidity. In some cases, lifestyle choices such as smoking may also affect survival. Tracking these behaviors permits evaluation of how well cancer control efforts are working to reduce unnecessary disability and death among those with a history of cancer.
Rates of smoking among cancer survivors are based on the self-reporting of individuals with a cancer history who are interviewed as part of the annual population-based National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). Participants were asked whether they were a current smoker.
Healthy People 2020 Target
- There is no Healthy People 2020 target for smoking rates among cancer survivors, though it does include a national objective to increase the mental and physical health-related quality of life of cancer survivors. However, it is reasonable to set this at the goal determined for the general population, which is to decrease to 12 percent the proportion of people who smoke.
Healthy People 2020 is a set of goals set forth by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Note: Goals are indicated as blue line on Detailed Trend Graphs.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. National Health Interview Survey, 1992–2016.
|Overview Graph||Detailed Trend Graphs||Most Recent Estimates (2016)|
|Percent of cancer survivors||95% Confidence Interval|
|Ages 18-44||26.6||19.9 - 34.5|
|Ages 45-64||20.0||16.9 - 23.4|
|Ages 65 and older||6.7||5.3 - 8.4|
Compared to Remaining U.S. Population
|Overview graph||Age Group||Cancer Survivor||Remaining U.S. Population|
|Percent of population||95% Confidence Interval||Percent of population||95% Confidence Interval|
|Ages 18-44||32.4||29.8 - 35.2||20.2||19.8 - 20.6|
|Ages 45-64||21.2||20.1 - 22.3||19.9||19.5 - 20.3|
|Ages 65 and older||8.0||7.4 - 8.6||9.0||8.6 - 9.4|
Resources are available to assist cancer control planners, program staff, and researchers to design, implement, and evaluate evidence-based survivorship programs. Visit Cancer Control P.L.A.N.E.T.- survivorship for data on cancer incidence, research syntheses, cancer control plans, research-tested interventions, interactive communities of practice, and other resources.
Additional Information on Cancer Survivors and Smoking
For health professionals
- Tobacco Smoking Cessation in Adults, Including Pregnant Women: Behavioral and Pharmacotherapy Interventions (September 2015). U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
- Correlates of continued smoking versus cessation among survivors of smoking-related cancers. Berg CJ, Thomas AN, Mertens AC, Schauer GL, et al. Psycho-Oncology 2013;22:799–806.
- Tobacco use and cessation for cancer survivors: an overview for clinicians. Karam-Hage M, Cinciripini PM, Gritz ER. CA Cancer J Clin. 2014 Jul-Aug;64(4):272-90. doi: 10.3322/caac.21231. Review.
- Cigarette smoking, comorbidity, and general health among survivors of adolescent and young adult cancer.. Kaul S, Veeranki SP, Rodriguez AM, Kuo YF. Cancer. 2016 Sep 15;122(18):2895-905.
- Use of Electronic Cigarettes Among Cancer Survivors in the U.S.. Salloum RG, et al. Am J Prev Med. 2016 Nov;51(5):762-766.
- Tobacco smoking and the risk of subsequent primary cancer among cancer survivors: a retrospective cohort study. Tabuchi T, Ito Y, Ioka A, Nakayama T, et al. Annals of Oncology 2013; 24(1):2699–2704.