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Smoking of cancer patients worsens the prognosis for recovery
The International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer calls for a Declaration to highlight the importance of
quitting tobacco use after cancer is diagnosed Photo: pxhere.com /
While tobacco smoking is a generally recognized preventable cause of cancer, it causes about 1 in 3 cancer deaths each year, but the harm from continuing to smoke after cancer is diagnosed is underestimated. The International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer has adopted a Declaration calling on physicians to screen cancer patients for tobacco use and to recommend smoking cessation.
As noted in the Declaration, cancer patients who continue to smoke after diagnosis have higher overall mortality, cancer mortality and the risk of developing a second primary cancer, as well as significantly increased toxicity of cancer treatment. In addition, the clinical effects of smoking have a significant impact on the cost of cancer treatment.
Conversely, smoking cessation leads to better treatment outcomes. However, most of those who smoke at the time of diagnosis continue to smoke during treatment.
Oncologists, according to surveys, recognize that smoking has adverse effects. Approximately 90% of them ask patients about tobacco use and 80% recommend quitting smoking, but few offer direct help to get rid of the bad habit.
“For too long, this issue has been neglected in the training of healthcare providers. Many doctors still believe that it is too late to offer smoking cessation assistance when cancer is diagnosed. Likewise, most patients believe that giving up will not benefit from the diagnosis,”said Dr. Jasek Jassem from the Medical University of Gdansk.
The declaration makes a number of recommendations:
All cancer patients should be screened for tobacco use and receive information on the benefits of smoking cessation.
- Patients who continue to smoke after being diagnosed with cancer should be provided with evidence-based regular tobacco cessation assistance.
- Cancer education programs should include training on cessation of smoking, a sensitivity to tobacco use and smoking cessation history, and the use of proven resources to help you quit smoking.
- Counseling and treatment for smoking cessation must be paid for.
- When conducting prospective clinical trials, it is imperative that the smoking status of the participants is indicated (both at the beginning and during the study).
“This problem can be addressed by raising awareness in the medical community about the importance of quitting smoking after a cancer diagnosis. Hopefully our initiative will help change that attitude,”said Dr. Emily Stone of Sydney's Kinghorn Cancer Center, St. Vincent Hospital.