WCLC 2019 – Smoking cessation after cancer diagnosis: an underestimated problem

  • Elena Riboldi — Agenzia Zoe
  • Univadis
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  • The International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) issued a document recommending healthcare providers to screen their cancer patients for tobacco use and to consider smoking cessation an essential part of cancer care.


Why this matters

  • Most smoking cancer patients persist in their habit during treatment and afterwards.
  • The time of cancer diagnosis represents a privileged moment to discuss nicotine addiction and tobacco cessation interventions.


Key points

The problem

  • Smoking continuation negatively impacts survival, increases treatment toxicity, the risk for second primary cancer, and is associated with higher treatment costs.
  • Healthcare providers often do not help their patients with smoking cessation.


IASLC recommendations

  • All cancer patients should be screened for tobacco use and advised on the benefits of tobacco cessation.
  • In patients who continue smoking after diagnosis of cancer, evidence-based tobacco cessation assistance should be routinely and integrally incorporated into multidisciplinary cancer care for the patients and their family members.
  • Educational programs regarding cancer managements should include tobacco cessation training, empathetic communication around history of tobacco use and cessation and utilization of existing evidence-based tobacco-cessation resources.
  • Smoking cessation counselling and treatment should be a reimbursable service.
  • Smoking status, both initially and during the study, should be a required data element for all prospective clinical studies.
  • Clinical trials of patients with cancer should consider designs that could also determine the most effective tobacco cessation interventions.


Expert commentary

Our opinion is that there should be an enhanced focus on smoking cessation at the time of cancer diagnosis. Active intervention may increase patients' action to quit.” Jacek Jassem, Oncology and Radiotherapy Department, Medical University of Gdansk (Gdansk, Poland).