• Cancer

    Mayo Clinic study finds cancer diagnosis, treatment can drive smoking cessation

Photo of Thulasee Jose, M.D.
Thulasee Jose, M.D.

A recent study conducted by researchers at Mayo Clinic Cancer Center has determined that being diagnosed with cancer and going through cancer treatment can prompt smokers to quit. Most people who quit smoking during cancer treatment could remain nonsmokers. People with cancer were more likely to quit smoking if their cancer was smoking-related. A summary of the researchers' findings is published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

As part of Mayo Clinic Cancer Center's participation in the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Center Cessation Initiative, Thulasee Jose, M.D., a clinical research collaborator at Mayo Clinic, and her research team incorporated the Cancer Patient Tobacco Use Questionnaire into routine clinical practice at Mayo Clinic. This questionnaire is a validated 22-item self-reporting survey endorsed by the National Cancer Institute. It  identifies and quantifies tobacco use relative to the time frames of cancer diagnosis, treatment and survivorship. Dr. Jose is lead author on the study.

From September 2019 to September 2020, 33,831 patients received the questionnaire, and 20,818 of those patients, or 62%, responded. Of the 3,007 current smokers who responded, 34% quit at diagnosis.

Patients diagnosed with smoking-related cancers were more likely to quit smoking — 40% versus 29%, respectively. Among those patients who did not quit smoking at diagnosis, 31% quit smoking after starting cancer treatment, and those with smoking-related cancers were more likely to quit smoking — 35% and 28%, respectively. Among those who had quit smoking before the completion of cancer treatment, 13% resumed smoking after treatment ended. Patients with smoking-related cancers were more likely to maintain abstinence from smoking after completing cancer treatment.

"These study results confirm the importance of offering patients tobacco cessation services at multiple points along the cancer care continuum," says Dr. Jose. "If patients with cancer can quit smoking, they improve their overall health, reduce their risk of treatment complications and reduce their risk of cancer recurrence."

Also see this article: "'Opt-Out' Policy Increases Tobacco Treatment Visits Among Cancer Patients"

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