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A group of British medical researchers has reported that quitting smoking after being diagnosed with early-stage lung cancer doubles a patient's chances of living for another five years.

They issued the report after analyzing data from 10 observational studies on the impact of quitting smoking after being diagnosed with the disease.

According to the analysis, some 29 to 33 percent of early-stage lung cancer patients who continued to smoke after diagnosis survived for five years, while 63 to 70 percent of patients who quit survived for that long.

The higher survival rate is related to a reduced likelihood of tumor recurrence, not from improvements in the condition of the heart and lungs, the researchers said.

Researcher Amanda Parsons of the U.K. Centre for Tobacco Control Studies at the University of Birmingham College of Medicine and Dentistry said, "Quitting smoking was associated with around double the chance of surviving at any time point compared to people who continued to smoke."

Medical researchers said that quitting smoking could double a cancer patient's chances of living for another five years.

For years, doctors have said that less than one-third of patients with lung cancer are still alive a year after diagnosis and that smoking is one of the major triggers for the disease.

Still, it's been less clear how quitting smoking might affect patient prognosis. The study will be useful to anti-smoking campaigns, experts said.

"The results are quite dramatic. I don't think anybody would have expected such a dramatic difference. It's incredible," said Dr. Norman Edelman, chief medical officer for the American Lung Association.

The new findings were published in the Jan. 21 online edition of the British Medical Journal.

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