Smoking and attitudes towards lung cancer: a review of the literature


Session type:

Frances Sherratt1,2, Ying Chen1, Russell Hyde1, John Field1, Jude Robinson2
1University of Liverpool Cancer Research Centre, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, Merseyside, UK, 2Dept. of Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, Merseyside, UK


Smoking cessation has been highlighted as the single most effective strategy to reduce lung cancer risk among the 1.3 billion smokers worldwide (Thun et al., 2010). Despite 63% of smokers in the UK reporting a willingness to quit smoking (Robinson and Harris, 2011) and NICE producing evidence-based guidance on effective smoking cessation strategies, smoking cessation success rates stand at a mere 1-5% of smokers per year (Song et al., 2002). It is clearly necessary to consider alternative strategies to motivate smokers to quit.


Here we report the findings from a systematic review of the literature, designed to further explore the relationship between smoking and attitudes towards lung cancer. We consider gaining a greater understanding of the associations between variables and their contribution towards differences in attitudes towards lung cancer risk, and uptake of smoking cessation services and/or quitting.


Perceived individual risk has been found to correlate with motivation to quit smoking (Tessaro et al., 1997), which in turn is associated with smoking cessation (Boardman et al., 2005). Perceived risk of lung cancer is elevated among smokers (Rutten et al., 2011), yet smokers have been found to underestimate their personal risk of developing lung cancer when comparing themselves to other smokers (Weinstein et al., 2005). Furthermore, current smokers are more likely to attribute lung cancer to smoking-independent factors, such as inheritance (Kaphingst et al., 2009), which may adversely affect perceived risk and cessation motivation.


The outcome of this review could potentially inform future smoking cessation campaigns or interventions within the Liverpool Lung Project, in conjunction with the Roy Castle Smoking Cessation service ( and contribute to the reduction of future lung cancer incidence.