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Smoking cessation program for cancer patients shows potential

More than half of patients with cancer continue to smoke after diagnosis, but researchers said a new program greatly increased the number who are working to quit.

By Tauren Dyson
Smoking cessation program for cancer patients shows potential
Researchers say the TUTS program being tested at the University of Pennsylvania showed growth in tobacco cessation attempts by cancer patients. File Photo by ChameleonsEye/Shutterstock

June 26 (UPI) -- New support tools may help cancer patients quit smoking, a new study shows.

Cancer patients who used special tobacco cessation treatments at Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania increased from 0 percent to 36 percent in 12 months, according to research published this month in The Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

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Over 50 percent of cancer patients who smoked prior to receiving their diagnosis keep smoking even after treatment ends, the researchers say. But quitting the habit, they say, can greatly improve the prognosis of a cancer patient.

"Seeing a high number of clinicians from two different specialities use this tool indicates a level of institutional support that has proven critical to the successful launch of our program," Dr. Brian Jenssen, an assistant professor of pediatrics, a primary care pediatrician at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and lead author of the study, said in a press release.

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For the study, the researchers used their experience with the Tobacco Use Treatment Service at the University of Pennsylvania. It used both the electronic health records with traditional institutional buy-in smoking cessation methods to help cancer patients quit smoking.

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During the first 12 months, 85 oncologists at Penn used TUTS to help with patient smoking cessation.

The oncologists reported a few roadblocks while conducting the lessons, like a low willingness from some patients to take part in the treatment. Some patients also felt discouraged and thought the treatment wouldn't work.

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There is still more work to do in developing the program -- 12 months is not enough time to understand whether the program is effective -- but researchers note the importance of support for the concept from the National Cancer Institute under the Cancer Moonshot.

"That support has allowed us to establish a sustainable, low-cost program that expands our efforts to help cancer patients quit tobacco, and it can continue to have an impact for years to come," Robert A. Schnoll, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania and study senior author, said in a news release.

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