The city of New York today begins its annual anti-smoking campaign with another in a series of blunt TV ads that highlight the health effects of smoking-related cancers.
The 2012 campaign focuses on some of the rarer cancers associated with smoking — stomach, pancreatic and esophageal cancer.
The ads highlight the painful nature of the cancers and the ordeal of the treatments — which even then are no guarantee of long-term survival.
The theme of the campaign is “Quitting is much less painful,” and the ads focus on the nature of chemo and radiation therapy used by doctors to tackle the diseases and sometime catastrophic effect they have on the quality of life of patients and their families.
The three cancers have some of the lowest survival rates of all.
The National Cancer Institute studied survival rates of patients in the U.S. from 1975-2008 and found:
1. Only 17 percent of those diagnosed with esophageal cancer can expect to survive more than five years.
2. Only 26 percent of those diagnosed with stomach cancer can expect to survive for more than five years.
3. And only 6 percent of pancreatic cancer sufferers can expect to survive for five years. The survival rate among men is even lower.
The ads, run by the city’s Department of Health, feature graphic images of the cancers themselves.
Time to quit
Thursday begins the Health Department’s annual Nicotine Patch and Gum Program.
The program will run from March 1 through March 16.
Driven since 2006 by the hard-hitting educational campaigns NYC has become internationally renowned for, this program has prompted 300,000 to call for help to quit. It is estimated that 100,000 New Yorkers have quit smoking from this program, which equates to preventing more than 30,000 smoking-related deaths.
This year’s program
The new campaign, called “Pain,” is educating smokers about the painful cancers smoking causes and they devastatingly low survival rates of these cancers.
This year, smokers can receive further help by registering on NYC QUITS, an interactive website that includes tools to help smokers quit.
They can enroll online by searching “NYC QUITS” on www.nyc.gov or calling 311 for help quitting smoking.
Not just lung cancer
Metro asked Dr. Manish A. Shah of New York’s Weill Cornell Medical Center about the effects smoking can have on the rest of your body:
Smoking is associated with an increased risk of several other cancers, including cancers of the esophagus, stomach and pancreas. These cancers are amongst the most deadly cancers we treat, and are often devastating to the patient, their close relatives and their caregivers.
The esophagus, stomach and pancreas collectively form the foregut — the initial part of the digestive tract. These organs are critically important in starting the process of digestion by preparing food for both mechanical digestion (in the stomach) and for chemical digestion (by the pancreas). Patients with cancer of these organs commonly present with increasing difficulty swallowing, unintentional weight loss and abdominal pain. The abdominal pain can be severe, described as a gnawing pain centrally located in the abdomen and extending across the abdomen like a band toward the back.
These are aggressive tumors that require careful treatment planning. Patients with localized cancers of the esophagus, stomach or pancreas often require a multidisciplinary approach to treatment, including the coordinated efforts of a medical oncologist, radiation oncologist and surgeon. Unfortunately, despite these efforts the majority of patients will develop metastases — the spread of disease to other sites. Although patients often achieve some benefit from chemotherapy and other forms of treatment, for most patients the inevitable outcome is death.
Limit the risk of developing the disease by stopping smoking. If the disease develops, it is important to catch it early if possible.