Dr. David Mowat gives a misleading impression of
why smokers are refused surgery sometimes. It is not a “slippery slope,” nor is
it “discriminatory”. The National Post’s coverage of Mowat and colleagues’
Current Oncology study correctly notes, and
it bears repeating, that “smoking blunts the effects of chemotherapy and
radiation, meaning lower survival; it worsens the side effects of treatment and
increases the likelihood of a second cancer.” It also raises the likelihood of
poorer surgical outcomes.
If you were told to fast for 12 hours before an
important diagnostic test, or an operation, you would be sent home if you showed
up having ignored instructions and eaten a full meal. Nicotine creates a
terrible addiction, yes, but it can be overcome, and if a medical treatment
requires at least temporarily stopping, smokers must act accordingly, in their
own self-interest. Doctors who insist they comply with instructions are neither
callous nor punitive, they are doing their part to ensure a good outcome. Their
smoker patients must do the same.