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Physicians urged to screen cancer patients for tobacco use and recommend tobacco cessation

The International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer today used the platform of its largest international meeting to call attention to the importance of tobacco cessation after cancer diagnosis, and urged all physicians to screen cancer patients for tobacco use and recommend tobacco cessation.

Cancer patients who continue smoking after their diagnosis have a higher mortality rate and a higher risk for a second cancer development.

The clinical effects of smoking after the diagnosis of cancer also has a substantial effect on increased cancer treatment costs, according to the Declaration.

The IASLC Tobacco Control and Smoking Cessation Committee has undertaken this initiative to raise physician involvement in tobacco control, said Dr. Jacek Jassem of the Medical University of Gdansk in Gdansk, Poland.

"For too long this has been a neglected problem in the education of health professionals. Many physicians still believe that it is too late to offer smoking cessation support at cancer diagnosis. Likewise, most patients believe that there is nothing to be gained from quitting once being diagnosed," Jassem said.

The IASLC Declaration makes several 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 management should include tobacco cessation training, empathetic communication around history of tobacco use and cessation and utilisation 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.

Source: International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer

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