Objective: To define the relationship between the duration of smoking cessation and postoperative complications for patients with lung cancer undergoing surgical treatment. Background: Smoking increases the risk of postoperative morbidity and mortality in patients with lung cancer undergoing surgical treatment. Although smoking cessation before surgery can mitigate these risks, the ideal duration of preoperative smoking cessation remains unclear. Methods: Using a uniquely compiled Veterans Health Administration dataset, we performed a retrospective cohort study of patients with clinical stage I non-small cell lung cancer undergoing surgical treatment between 2006 and 2016. We characterized the relationship between duration of preoperative smoking cessation and risk of postoperative complications or mortality within 30-days using multivariable restricted cubic spline functions. Results: The study included a total of 9509 patients, of whom 6168 (64.9%) were smoking at the time of lung cancer diagnosis. Among them, only 662 (10.7%) patients stopped smoking prior to surgery. Longer duration between smoking cessation and surgery was associated with lower odds of major complication or mortality (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] for every additional week, 0.919; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.850-0.993; P = 0.03). Compared to nonsmokers, patients who quit at least 3 weeks before surgery had similar odds of death or major complication (aOR, 1.005; 95% CI, 0.702-1.437; P = 0.98) whereas those who quit within 3 weeks of surgery had significantly higher odds of death or major complication (aOR, 1.698; 95% CI, 1.203-2.396; P = 0.003). Conclusion: Smoking cessation at least 3 weeks prior to the surgical treatment of lung cancer is associated with reduced morbidity and mortality. Providers should aggressively encourage smoking cessation in the preoperative period, since it can disproportionately impact outcomes in early-stage lung cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E933-E940
JournalAnnals of surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2023


  • cigarettes
  • non-small cell lung cancer
  • smoking
  • thoracic surgery


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