Giving up cigarettes led to nearly a year of extra survival, study shows.

(HealthDay)—Lung cancer patients live longer if they quit smoking around the time of their cancer diagnosis, a new study finds.

Researchers looked at 250 patients who were smokers and were referred to a program to help them stop smoking. Fifty had recently quit smoking, and 71 had quit smoking soon after being referred to the tobacco cessation program.

Those who quit smoking shortly before or after they learned they had lung cancer lived an average of 28 months. Those who continued to smoke lived an average of 18 months, the study found.

Even patients with advanced lung cancer gained extra survival time if they quit smoking, the study in the July issue of the Journal of Thoracic Oncology showed.

The researchers also found that patients who didn't quit smoking but continued their attempts to quit may also live longer. However, death rates for those who quit and then started again were similar to those who didn't quit.

"To our knowledge, this is one of the first studies to examine the impact of tobacco cessation on survival among who participated in a mandatory assessment and automatic referral to a service," study senior author Mary Reid, director of cancer screening and survivorship, at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., said in an institute news release.

"Establishing services to accurately screen for tobacco use and easily accessible cessation programs are essential in the cancer care setting to further improve the survival time and quality of life of patients," Reid said.

More information: The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about lung cancer.

Journal information: Journal of Thoracic Oncology