Cancer Diagnosis Not Enough to Make Many Smokers Quit

Time of diagnosis underused as teachable moment

MONDAY, Nov. 28 (HealthDay News) -- The time of cancer diagnosis is being underused as a teachable moment to help persuade smokers to quit, according to a study published in the January 2006 issue of Cancer. Many patients continue to smoke after diagnosis, which has serious adverse effects on treatment.

Ellen R. Gritz, Ph.D., of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues conducted a literature review to examine the benefits to cancer patients of smoking cessation, current targeted cessation interventions for cancer patients and treatment models for cancer patients who continue to smoke after diagnosis.

The authors found that the effectiveness of cancer treatment, overall survival, risk of secondary cancer and quality of life are all adversely affected by smoking after diagnosis. They also noted that there is little empirical research on the effectiveness of smoking cessation interventions targeted at cancer patients and highlight the crucial and underutilized role that health care workers play in helping cancer patients to quit.

"Cancer patients who are able to stop smoking and remain abstinent after diagnosis and treatment are likely to reap substantial... benefits," the authors conclude. "Additional benefits may extend to family members who choose to act on this teachable moment to improve their own health and provide vital psychological and social support through their actions."

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