New meta-analysis paper in the BMJ quantifies statistically significant life extensions even for those who are diagnosed with early stage lung cancer. I did a paper with colleagues from Duke and American Cancer society that showed life extensions by age of quitting. We found that if you stopped smoking by age 35, that your life expectancy did not differ significantly from a never smoker. We found that even someone stopping at age 65--who likely had half a century of life time smoking had significant life extensions if they quit prior to getting ill. In communicating the results we often use the stylized fact that you get life expectancy gains IF you quit prior to getting sick.
The new study shows that is not correct, and that for certain lung cancers you still get life expectancy gains from cessation, even after the onset of disease.
Turns out one of my former students Damjan Denoble, who lived and worked in China for several years, remembers what I said about smoking (this can be good and bad when they remember!). This post of his I link to is about US health reform, and it is a bit of circular reference, but the blog is a very good one if you are interested in China, in particular. asiahealthcareblog.com They were one of the first to say China was cooking the books on H1N1 transmission last summer.....here is a classic post of discussions of US and Chinese culture filtered through the lens of....everything.