• By Jason Howland

Mayo Clinic Minute: Why cancer patients should stop smoking

February 20, 2019

The Mayo Clinic Cancer Center recently received a grant from the National Cancer Institute to ensure that all cancer patients who use tobacco have access to treatment for their tobacco use. Partnering with the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center, tobacco treatment will be an integral part of cancer care at Mayo providing valuable support from Mayo nicotine addiction experts.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

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Smoking and tobacco use is a common cause of deadly cancers.

"We know that 30 percent of all cancer-related deaths are due to tobacco," says Dr. J. Taylor Hays, director of Mayo Clinic's Nicotine Dependence Center.

And for cancer patients undergoing treatment, kicking the habit is especially important.

"We know that people who have cancer will do better with regard to chemotherapy complications and radiation therapy complications. They’ll have less toxicity from those," says Dr. Hays. "They’ll have better quality of life after their cancer treatment if they’re not smoking. They’ll have longer life. It also impacts the family who wants the patient to quit, and it creates a great tension."

Dr. Hays says it’s imperative that treatment for nicotine addiction begins as soon as a cancer diagnosis is made.

"The basic treatment that everyone should receive is some behavioral therapy, counseling, support and medications that help reduce withdrawal."

Dr. Hays says he hopes the future of cancer care includes aggressive intervention and treatment for tobacco dependence.

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