, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 37-44
Date: 02 Jul 2011

Health behaviors of early-stage non-small cell lung cancer survivors

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Lung cancer survivors are at risk for cancer recurrence and other chronic illnesses related predominantly to prior tobacco use and older age. Optimal quality of post-treatment care requires greater knowledge of survivors’ adherence to behavioral health recommendations. This study reports the rates of smoking, physical activity, alcohol use, cancer screenings, and routine primary care visits in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) survivors.


Stage IA and IB NSCLC survivors (N = 183, mean age = 69.0 years) with no evidence of disease 1–6 years post-treatment completed standard survey items regarding health and cancer screening behaviors.


Most survivors (83.5%) had a history of smoking, but 64.8% quit prior to diagnosis and only 5.5% continued to smoke. Alcohol intake recommendations were exceeded by 5.4% and 17.3% of men and women, respectively. In a typical week, 23.1% met physical activity guidelines. Regarding cancer screenings, 89.3% were adherent to colorectal cancer screening guidelines. Among women, 72.0% had a mammogram within the previous year and 81.5% had a pap test in the previous 3 years; among men, 86.7% had a prostate-specific antigen test in the previous year. Almost all (97.3%) had seen a primary care provider in the past year.


The majority of lung cancer survivors were adherent to health promotion recommendations, but few engaged in the recommended level of physical activity.

Implications for cancer survivors

Physical and pulmonary rehabilitation interventions may help lung cancer survivors maintain sufficient levels of physical activity, which can have numerous benefits for older adults.

Preliminary findings were presented as a poster at the 4th Biennial Conference on Cancer Survivorship Research Conference held in Atlanta, GA, on June 18–20, 2008.