Can I smoke pot while I get cancer treatment?

Well, it’s complicated.  By federal law, possessing cannabis (marijuana) is illegal in the United States. And getting any drug off the street is a bad idea—since you are basically putting something dangerous into your body that could change how well your cancer treatment works.

So the short answer is no.

But if you are interested in finding ways to deal with symptoms like nausea or loss of appetite, there are some safe and effective medications that might just do the trick.

Also, medicines called cannabinoids work by affecting the area of the brain that controls nausea, vomiting, and appetite. Cannabinoids are used to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy in people who have already taken other medications to treat this type of nausea and vomiting without good results.

Talk to your doctor and figure out what is going to work best.

Here’s more information about medical cannibis and cannabinoid use if you want to read up.

The laws in your state may be different if you are over the age of 18. For more about the Medical Marijuana Program in California, click here.

How do I quit smoking?

Making the choice to quit smoking is the best decision you can make in taking control of your health and fighting cancer.  It’s not always easy, but you can make it easier on yourself if you always keep in mind the importance of what you are doing. Your body needs to be as strong as possible to fight cancer and it will become stronger as soon as you quit.

Here’s a checklist of things you can do to help put the smoking habit behind you:

  • Consider joining a stop-smoking group. Ask if your school has one or contact your local American Lung Association for stop smoking materials.
  • Choose a quit date and stick to it.
  • Find someone you trust to help you through
  • Ditch all of your “smoking stuff” by getting rid of all of the things you associate with smoking and be sure to tell everyone you are doing it.
  • Make a list of reasons of why it’s important for you to quit and keep the list where you can look at it often—up in your room, in your wallet, etc.
  • Drinks lots of water and eat healthy foods. Both of these will make you feel better while you’re kicking the habit.
  • Think about what you will do when you have an urge or craving to smoke ahead of time. Knowing how you will distract yourself will make it easier.
  • Keep in mind that if you slip, you have not failed.

In some cases, smokers benefit from nicotine replacement products to help break their smoking habit. These products continue to give smokers nicotine to meet their nicotine craving. The benefit of nicotine replacement products is the elimination of tars and poisonous gases that cigarettes emit. Because of your cancer, you should never start using one of these products without permission from your oncologist. Some examples of nicotine replacement products include:

  • nicotine chewing gum – an over-the-counter chewing gum that releases small amounts of nicotine to help reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
  • nicotine patch – an over-the-counter patch applied to the upper body once a day that releases a steady dosage of nicotine to help reduce the urge to smoke.
  • nicotine inhaler or nasal spray – a prescription nicotine replacement product that releases nicotine to help reduce withdrawal symptoms (requires a physician’s approval before use).

Zyban is a non-nicotine alternative to help people stop smoking. Offered in pill form to smokers who want to quit, Zyban (Bupropion HCI), has been shown to alter mood transmitters in the brain that are linked to addiction. Zyban must be prescribed by a physician and may not be appropriate for everyone. Your onologist can tell you if Zyban is a good fit for you and your condition.

Talk to your doctor and we’ll help you quit and stick to it.

In the meantime, check out

How does smoking make things worse if I have cancer?

While you have cancer, your body is fighting to get well and smoking makes that fight much more difficult. Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches your body’s tissues, contributes to higher blood pressure, increases the risk of forming a blood clot, damages your blood vessels, and greatly increases the risk of a stroke.

I’m a smoker. Can I keep smoking?

If you are a teen smoker, you aren’t alone. According to the American Cancer Society, 90 percent of new smokers are children and teenagers. It’s not a secret that smoking is a dangerous habit for both the smoker and those around the smoker.

But now that you have cancer, smoking is going to make your fight against cancer much, much harder. According to the National Cancer Institute, studies have found that those who quit smoking are more likely to recover from their cancer than those who don’t. Continuing to smoke can mess up how well your treatment works, and can also intensify the gross side effects of treatment.

If I already have cancer, why does it matter if I smoke?

Whether your cancer is related to smoking or not, if you continue smoking you have an increased risk of developing a second cancer at the same or another site in your body. If you require a surgery as part of your cancer treatment, it is important to know that smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to have complications after surgical procedures.

Wanna quit? Talk to your doctor or nurse. We can help you! Need a little motivation to quit smoking? Check out the Gallery of Gore at


What if I smoke when I am stressed out?

Finding out that you have cancer can be scary. You probably feel confused, stressed and overwhelmed with questions. The emotional and physical stress that you experience may cause you to want to pick up a cigarette – either for the first time or as a continued habit.

This is understandable, but it’s important that you keep your body as healthy as possible during this time.  It’s understandable for you to have questions about smoking and cancer; below are some of the most common questions we get from our teen and young adult patients.