Lung cancer patients who quit smoking shortly before or after diagnosis get a significant survival benefit, despite the severity of the disease, Roswell Park Cancer Institute researchers found.
The research bubbled up through the hospital’s Tobacco Assessment and Cessation Service, which conducts a standardized tobacco use assessment for lung cancer patients treated in the Roswell Thoracic Center, and automatically refers patients who smoke to a tobacco cessation counseling service. Using service data, 250 patients participated in the study. Those who recently stopped smoking (50), or quit after their first contact with the service (71) had reduced mortality rates compared to patients who continued to smoke.
The median survival for patients who reported they had stopped smoking was 28 months compared with 18 months for those who continued to use tobacco. Study findings were published last year in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology.
“To our knowledge, this is one of the first studies to examine the impact of tobacco cessation on survival among lung cancer patients who participated in a mandatory assessment and automatic referral to a tobacco cessation service,” said the study’s senior author, Mary Reid, director of Cancer Screening and Survivorship at Roswell Park.
The survival advantage for those who stopped smoking was adjusted for demographics, disease stage and other health characteristics.
Results also suggested there may be a survival benefit for patients who don’t completely quit tobacco use, but continue to try to quit after a cancer diagnosis. Mortality rates for those who continued to relapse were similar to current users.
Tobacco Assessment and Cessation Service collects standardized tobacco use information at diagnosis and follow-up. The researchers recommended that given the impact of smoking cessation on improved cancer survival, structured smoking assessments administered at regular intervals should be included as standard of care in clinical practice and clinical trials.
Roswell regularly offers free, five-week courses, and booster classes for all who wish to stop smoking. The next course starts Jan. 25, though someone who looks to quit can “jump in anytime,” said hospital tobacco cessation coach Stephanie Segal. Those who attend receive a nicotine assessment, professional cessation guidance, group support, relaxation strategies, relapse prevention, medication referrals and free nicotine replacement medication. Those interested can call (877)ASK-RPCI or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Establishing services to accurately screen for tobacco use and easily accessible cessation programs are essential in the cancer care setting to further improve the survival time and quality of life of patients,” Reid said in a news release.